Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Monday directed the state civil aviation department to immediately tie up with the Centre for direct flights to countries like the US and Canada from the international airport in Chandigarh.
At present, only two international flights are operational from the airport to Dubai and Sharjah.
Chairing a meeting to review the functioning of the civil aviation department, Mann said a large number of people from the state are settled in countries like the US, Canada, UK, New Zealand and Australia.
This initiative will facilitate the Punjabi diaspora settled abroad to visit their native places in the state in a seamless manner, he said.
To give an impetus to the agro and food processing industry in the state, Mann also asked the department to immediately start cargo flights from the international airport, according to an official release.
The chief minister said this step will go a long way in giving much-needed boost to the export of food products across the globe and especially in supplementing income of state farmers manifold through this farmer-friendly initiative.
Mann also asked the department to immediately convene a meeting with the Haryana civil aviation department for evolving a broad consensus on naming the international airport here as Shaheed-e-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh International Airport.
The CM also underscored the need to set up an international civil enclave at Halwara to be operational at the earliest so that the trade and industrial activities in the vicinity of Ludhiana could get a major boost.
Stressing the need to streamline the functioning of the Punjab State Civil Aviation Council (PSCAC), Mann also asked the secretary, civil aviation, to work out modalities for giving preference to the state youth in imparting flying training.
This council will be instrumental in providing flying training to the local youth as per international standards, said Mann.
Earlier, they had to get flying training from other parts of the country and even abroad by spending huge money but now they would be provided with this facility at affordable rates within their own state, he said.
He also asked the department to intensify its efforts for the upgrade of the system for facilitating the flying operations in low visibility conditions, especially during dense fog in winter.
(With PTI inputs)