57 % Increase In Air Traffic As Tourists Flock Valley

57 % Increase In Air Traffic As Tourists Flock Valley

7 July 2012
Rising Kashmir
Abid Bashir

Srinagar: In the wake of huge tourist influx, the Srinagar airport is witnessing 57 per cent increase in air traffic, forcing the authorities to beef up the security and take measures for smooth arrival and departure of flights. Airport officials told Rising Kashmir that the government has increased the number of security personnel at the airport, deploying at least 100 additional policemen from J&K police, including 25 to 30 women cops for frisking of passengers. “We have also re-framed the flight schedule,” an official at the airport said, wishing not to be named. Director Srinagar Airport, O P Bhuwaniwala said, at present the airport is witnessing 57 per cent surge in air traffic as compared to last year. “We are witnessing huge rush of tourists, especially domestic. We have made changes in the departure and arrival schedule and intimated rest of the airports, especially Indira Gandhi International Airport of New Delhi. Directions have been passed that Srinagar airport should be intimated two hours in advance regarding arrival of the flights.” Director airport said the number of flights operating from Srinagar airport has also gone high. Against 23 flights in 2011, 30 flights are presently operating to and fro. “We have also increased one more entry point. Now we have two entry points,” he said. Bhuwaniwala said separate frisking points for female passengers have been set up at the main entrance gate. “Women security officials from CRPF and Police are ensuring smooth frisking of female passengers,” he said, adding that the move has helped save time. He said the timings for the early departure of flights have also been ensured. “The first flight takes off by 6.30 in the morning.” To a query whether Night Landing System has been installed, the director airport said the Airport Authority of India was working on the plan. “We hope to see NLS soon. Once the system would be installed, we would be able to receive night flights. At present we have mild lighting system installed which doesn’t allow night flights to land,” he said. It may be recalled that Director AAI had last year made an announcement in Srinagar that NLS would be installed at Srinagar airport within few months as they were working out the modalities in this regard. However, it has been more than one-and –a half year since the announcement was made, but the system is still not in place. Meanwhile, the tour operators have demanded relaxation in security related procedures. “Increase in air traffic is a good sign, but government should work on further relaxation of security procedures. Once that would happen, more tourists will arrive,” said chairman Houseboat Owners Association, Muhammad Azim Tuman. He said the government should abolish verification procedure for foreign tourists at the airport which is creating negative impact on the psyche of foreigners.