Shimla, Feb 4: Air India's subsidiary Alliance Air today conducted a test-flight to restart regular service between New Delhi and Shimla, an airport official said. The trial run of the 42-seat plane was successful and the scheduled flights are likely to start by this month, airport in-charge Parvindra Tiwari said.
Shimla airport at Jubbarhatti, 22-Km from here is located 2,196 metres above sea-level and was shut for the scheduled flights since Sep 6, 2012, affecting tourists and business travelers to Himachal Pradesh.
State tourism and civil aviation officials said that Kingfisher was the only airline that operated regular flights between Delhi and the state. However, it discontinued operations in the state before the airline was grounded in October 2012. Hospitality industry representatives are expecting good tourist arrivals with restoration of the air link.
Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Board vice chairman Vijai Singh Mankotia has raised the issue with Airports Authority of India (AAI) to explore the possibility of expanding the airstrips at Jubbarhatti, Bhuntar near Kullu and Gaggal near Dharamsala for facilitating landing of bigger aircrafts.
At the all-India conference of tourism ministers in New Delhi in December last year, Mankotia had demanded setting up of an international airport in the state to give a boost to Himachal's tourism industry. A team of the AAI officials that inspected the Jubbarhatti airstrip on February 2 had decided to conduct the test-flight.
Tiwari said a Rs 500-crore proposal for the expansion of runway and developing infrastructure at Jubbarhatti has been awaiting clearance. The state high court has already issued notices to the state and central government on poor air connectivity in the state. It had asked them to file a reply by January 5. Government officials said that landing aircrafts at the Shimla airport was a challenge, as it was one of the three table-top airports in the country.