February 2003 News

Kargil Put On Airlink Map

15 February 2003
The Daily Excelsior

New Delhi: Kargil town, which is still under the range of Pakistani guns, was put on the airlink map of the country, with an Indian Air Force Antonov-32 making its first landing at the airport on Friday with civilian passengers. IAF Spokesman Squadron Leader Rajesh Dhingra told PTI that the AN-32 made the inaugural run from Srinagar to Kargil Airport yesterday with 18 civilian passengers. Describing the flight as part of IAF, Central and State Government's commitment to the people of Kargil region, the spokesman said from hence Kargil would be airlinked to Chandigarh, Jammu and Srinagar on a regular basis. But unlike other scheduled airlinks, the authorities due to vulnerability of the Kargil airport to Pakistani guns are keeping the flight timings and schedule under wraps. The spokesman said at the moment only provisional fares were being charged adding that flights to the region would be highly subsidised. The flights to the region have been delayed due to Pakistani shooting down two military helicopters during Operation Vijay and subsequently Air Marshal Vinod Bhatia, the then Air Officer Commanding in Chief Western Air Command being hit by Pakistani anti aicraft guns. The Kargil airport lies very near the Line of Control and some of key heights ringing the take-off and landing flight path are in Pakistani occupied Kashmir.


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