After several years of waiting, Chandigarh is finally an international gateway as an Air India Express flight took off to Sharjah. This is a special moment for me as it is the hometown of my father and his parents, and something that frustrated residents have long awaited. There was a terminal built in 2011 that promised international flights, followed by an announcement by FlyDubai stating flights to Dubai would commence, which never came to fruition. Almost exactly one year ago, a new terminal was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, only to see no change whatsoever; it was simply a new building that continued domestic operations. One wonders what the point of this was as the other terminal is quite new and is already collecting dust. Residents still had no choice but to go four hours to Delhi or Amritsar to take direct international flights, or take a flight to Delhi and connect.
This was simply unacceptable for a city of such stature, and finally, the high court stepped in and demanded action, and from there international flights were quickly announced. A flight to Dubai was announced by Indigo, this service begins September 26. Air India suddenly stepped in and beat Indigo to the punch by beginning its flight September 15. Also, it has announced flights to Singapore and Bangkok beginning in March. This is hopefully just the beginning of more announcements. As of now, Chandigarh can accept flights from any airport within 5000 kilometers, so there are several possibilities. If and when a new runway is built, this restriction will disappear and a CAT-III landing system will be installed, allowing flights to land in nearly zero visibility. But after so many false truths, one hesitates to think too far in advance, it took this long to simply get a flight, who knows what it will take to make further advances.