May 10, 2016 ( Even after several hearings at Punjab and Haryana High Court based on a PIL, it seems that international flight operations at Mohali airport will still take a while to begin.

Air India and IndiGo airlines apprised the court that they are planning to start international flights, while the rest of the airlines are currently not interested. Recently IndiGo asked for a slot at Mumbai airport from authorities (as per a news article by Economic Times) for landing and take off in return for starting flights from Chandigarh - something that doesn't sound feasible due to saturation at Mumbai airport.

The new airport at Mohali is currently costing Rs. 70 crores a year to maintain - often referred to as a white elephant. Not enough research was done prior to spending Rs. 1400 crores on the new airport.. Whatever exercises the high court is asking the concerned authorities to do, they should have been done before building it. Airlines are shying away from starting international flights and there is nothing that the authorities can do about it.

Even Air India and IndiGo may stop operating flights if they are no longer commercially viable. If the international flights do start but only to nearby destinations like Dubai, it would still not justify operating the new airport because the old terminal was sufficient to handle such flights and the maintainence costs would be considerably lesser.

High Court had mentioned a few days ago to turn the new airport to a wheat store and shift operations to the old one. This may sound like a joke, but doing that can potentially save several crores a year.


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