Himachal Pradesh has been the dream destination of tourists from all over the world. Himachal Pradesh had only one airport at Bhunter ( Kullu-Manali Airport) for a long time, until the Shimla Airport was built and opened for operation, with very limited flights, mostly Indian Airlines.
The flights were heavy on the pocket and mostly the flight used to be from Delhi via Chandigarh. Therefore, very few would opt for flights and would always be ready to take the pains of traveling by road. Presently, Himachal Pradesh has three domestic airports –
- Kullu Manali Airport
- Shimla Airport
- Kangra Airport
Kullu-Manali Airport At Bhunter –
Kullu–Manali Airport (IATA Airport Code: KUU) is situated at Bhunter closer to Kullu –Manali. It’s a domestic airport built on the banks of the river Beas.
Those who wish to visit Kullu-Manali, Lahaul Spiti valley often make use of this airport. It saves ample time. Kasol, Manikarna, Malana, Kullu-Manali, Rohtang Pass, Lahaul Spiti are the places around this airport from the traveler’s point of view.
Given below is the table listing distance for important places from Bhunter Airport-
|Manali||50km(1h 27 Min )|
|Rohtang Pass||100Km(3h 29 Min)|
Shimla Airport (IATA Airport Code: SLV) is located in Jubbarhatti, 22 kilometers from Shimla. This is a domestic airport. Shimla, Kurfi, Mashobra, Chail, Naldehra, Tattapani, Kinnaur are the places around this airport for tourists.
Distance for important places from Shimla Airport-
|Kurfi||38Km(1h 20 Min)|
|Naldehra||47Km(1h 33 Min)|
The Kangra Airport, (IATA Airport Code: DHM) is an airport located in Gaggal near Kangra, 14 km from Dharmshala and 8 kilometers from Kangra.
The Kangra airport receives at least four flights a day from Alliance Air and Spice Jet.
The Airport has expansion plans in the offing. In a fresh draft plan for the expansion of Kangra Airport, Gaggal, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) has proposed to increase the runway length to 3,010m.
After the expansion, bigger planes such as Airbus 320, which will have the capacity to seat 180, will be able to land at the airport. At present, the airlines operate ATR-72 aircraft to Gaggal, which has a capacity of 75 to 80 seats.
However, the passenger’s number is kept around 50-55, due to the short runway.
Kangra Airport has also gained importance because of Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, situated in Dharamshala which in 2015 was announced as one of the eight cities to host matches during the 2016 ICC World Twenty20.
The stadium also hosts IPL matches. The stadium has a magnificent backdrop of the Dhauladhar Mountain range.
Distance for important places from Kangra Airport-
|Kangra Fort||12Km(25 Min)|
|Jawala Ji Temple||44Km(1h)|
The three airports in Himachal Pradesh can cover the places popular as tourist destinations. The point here is how many tourists are opting for this mode of travel to Hill State to enjoy their vacations.
The answer is- very few!!
The reason is the High Tariff rate.
In my opinion, it’s exciting to go with this option because you save a lot of time and is not that less adventurous. However, on the other hand, traveling by road makes your trip longer, those who are not used to traveling on hills find it difficult to keep their endurance limit at the same level.
In addition to these airports, one more Airport at Nagchala, Mandi has also been proposed recently. This Airport has been promoted as an International airport and is considered of prime importance from the Defense point of view as well. This airport will be able to handle large aircraft.
Kangra Airport has the possibility of expansion whereas Shimla Airport has no scope.
The air tariffs would go down only when large aircraft can land at these airports and more tourists are encouraged to fly by air to Himachal Pradesh.