36 Flights To Operate From Srinagar Airport

36 Flights To Operate From Srinagar Airport

2 March 2013
Greater Kashmir
Imran Muzaffar

Srinagar: In anticipation of a busy tourist season this year, the authorities at Srinagar Airport have decided to operate 36 flights per day beginning April 1. At present, 24 flights operate per day from the airport. “We have received the summer schedule and from April 1 almost 36 flights would operate daily,” Director Srinagar Airport O P Buwaniwala told Greater Kashmir. Asked whether the airport was fully equipped to handle such a flow, Buwaniwala said, “Last year we were successful in handling 36 flights per day.” “Till April the proposal of 36 flights per day is not going to materialize because some important things are yet to be put in place. However, an additional morning flight would operate daily from March 1. It will be landing at 8 AM and the departure time would be 8:25 AM,” an official said. The official said at first a proposal of 40 to 44 flights per day was mooted but that could not be accepted because of certain “flaws” in the aerodrome. He said due to increased number of flight operations per day, security would be increased at the airport. “The airport’s security wing has already been intimated,” the official said. With the April schedule, Watch Hours (flight operation timing) at the airport would also be increased. “Since more flights operations are going to take place, watch hours would naturally increase,” the official said. He said the Indian Air Force that handles runway operations at the Airport has also been intimated about the plan. “Maintenance of 12000 feet long runway is must if the plan is to materialize on ground. The concerned authority has been informed.” The decision to increase flight operations at Srinagar Airport is seen as a result of last year’s tourist flow to the Valley. “The decision of more flights to Valley is promising for tourism industry. Although last year was a good season but skyrocketing airfares and fewer flights were a big challenge,” said Managing Director of TreveKash, Farooq Kuthoo. Kuthoo said due to fewer flights to Valley, tourists in 2012 preferred to travel to other destinations. “More flights mean competition between airlines and it is going to help tourism industry to a large extent,” he said. Increasing security at the airport, however, is seen discouraging for tourism industry. “The security at the airport is already so much that it discourages foreign tourists to visit the Valley. More footprints of forces mean extra panic,” said a travel agent. “More flights per day is a positive sign but increasing the security is discouraging for the tourists,” he said. Noting the aerodrome welcomes tourists with chaos and confusion, the Chairman of Nigeen Lake Conservation Organization Manzoor Ahmad Wangnoo said the Airport has “flaws” which need to be plugged. “When tourists arrive at the Airport, the first disappointment for them is they have to run from one belt to another for their luggage because there are just two them and people have to suffer,” he said. “The Airport becomes Chandni Chowk when planes land simultaneously. There is no proper mechanism to handle the passenger inflow,” Manzoor said. He said: “Bathrooms remain dirty at the so-called international airport and there seems no one to look into it. Moreover, it is ironical that not a single toilet point is along the route from Airport to Boulevard.” A tourist from Africa Ahmed told Greater Kashmir that on his arrival at Srinagar airport, he was surprised to see no trolleys around and was told that he would have to go outside the arrival lounge to fetch a trolley.