Omar Asks Pakistan To Allow Its Airspace To J-K Flights

Omar Asks Pakistan To Allow Its Airspace To J-K Flights

22 May 2012
India Today
Naseer Ganai

Srinagar: Ahead of secretary level talks between Indian and Pakistan, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah accused Pakistan of hampering international status of Srinagar airport by not allowing flights from Jammu and Kashmir over its air space to foreign countries. 'In fact denial by Pakistan to allow flights from Srinagar over their air space to foreign countries has put a big question mark over this prestigious programme (international airport). This is strange that our neighbour is allowing flights from any state of India over their air space except Jammu and Kashmir,' Omar said. He was talking to prominent citizens at the Sheri Kashmir International Convention Complex here (SKICC) here. 'We hope the better relations between the two countries will help to remove this bottleneck so that people in Jammu and Kashmir get benefitted equally,' Omar said. In 2005 the Central government had granted international status to Srinagar's domestic airport, but restricted foreign carriers from operating scheduled flights to the city citing security concerns. In 2008 some Hajj flights took off to Jeddah from the airport but the facility was soon stopped. Omar said in his recent meetings with Union leaders including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Home Minister P Chidambaram, he underlined the need of reducing the security checks at Srinagar airport which were imposed at the time when militancy was in peak. 'Situation has now improved. We expect re-looking at this aspect to make travel of people of the state and the visitors hassle free. Cumbersome searching and burdensome security checking need to be eased in changed circumstances now,' he added. 'I have also talked with Union leadership about the need of giving total control of Srinagar civil airport to civil aviation relieving the air force from the job. This would further help restore the civilian status of Srinagar airport,' Omar said and maintained that he would continue to advocate and work for this proposal. Omar expressed satisfaction over the enhancement of flying schedule which begins at 7 aim and ends at 5.30 p.m. He said this has helped the visitors and air passengers a lot.