On World Cup day, Chandigarh airport tackles record 98 flights


Chandigarh : On a normal day just around 12 flights arrive and take off at Chandigarh airport. But Wednesday was different with 49 flights, mostly chartered, arriving – all packed with celebrities to watch the India-Pakistan semifinal clash here.

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Senior politicians, VVIPs, celebrities, business tycoons and Bollywood stars began arriving from morning in their chartered flights. The 49 flights returned too, as none of the planes was allowed to park at the airport.

So, in effect, Chandigarh airport set a record of sorts with 98 flights arriving and taking off – within a span of just eight hours, said a senior official of Chandigarh airport.

H.S. Toor, Chandigarh airport director, told IANS Wednesday: “49 flights have successfully landed and taken off from the Chandigarh airport, on a bay of just 108 metres, within a span of only eight hours. This is, in fact, a world record and it has not happened anywhere before.”

“Airports Authority of India (AAI) was planning for this day for the last three-four days and today (Wednesday) everything went off properly with close coordination with the Indian Air Force. However, aircrafts were not parked here as we do not have enough parking space. They either went back or flew to nearby locations in Haryana and Punjab,” stated an upbeat Toor.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani with a 45-member delegation have arrived here.

Accompanying Manmohan Singh on the same flight were his wife Gursharan Kaur, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi. Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia also arrived on the same flight.

International Cricket Council president and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar also reached here Wednesday morning. His party colleague, Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel was here too.

Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani arrived in an Pakistan Air Force flight.

Leading Bollywood actor Aamir Khan, director Madhur Bhandarkar, actor Suneil Shetty and actor Vivek Oberoi and his wife were among those who arrived here for the match at Mohali, 10 km from Chandigarh.

Industrialist and IPL team Kings XI Punjab co-owner Ness Wadia as well as United Breweries’ chairman Vijay Mallya and his son Siddharth also arrived here.

However, Toor is expecting much movement at the airport till late in the night Wednesday.

“Now after the match is over, at least 35 flights will again come and take off from here. We still have much work to do,” stated Toor.

Normally there is no scheduled flight at Chandigarh airport during night. But the ATC (air traffic control) managed by the IAF has decided to work till late night after getting various requests.