For Travellers To Kashmir, More Flight Options

For Travellers To Kashmir, More Flight Options

19 May 2013
Khabar South Asia
Adil Akhzer

Srinagar: Anticipating a huge rush of tourists this year, authorities at Srinagar's Sheikh Ul Alam International Airport have added early morning and evening flights in and out of Kashmir, boosting the tourism economy and making life easier for locals, as well. The airport has been operating 27 flights per day since April 1st, up from 20 the month before. Officials expect that number to increase more in coming months. 'After seeing the tourist rush to Valley last year, airlines are operating extra flights every day,' said Director of Srinagar Airport O. P. Buwaniwala. 'We had earlier submitted a proposal of 36 flights to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation: however, presently we have got approval for 27 flights,' he said. 'The summer rush is yet to arrive,' Buwaniwala added. 'In coming months, the number of flights operating at Srinagar airport on per day basis would increase.' Tourism industry officials believe more flights will mean more tourists in Kashmir. 'It is a good step. Our long demand has been fulfilled by the authorities. It would help locals as well as people from the corporate sector,' Rouf Tramboo, chief of the Travel Agents Association of Kashmir, told Khabar South Asia. 'Many people prefer those places for a weekend vacation where evening flights are available. Now, Kashmir too has evening flights. That means more tourists, and hence a boon to the state's economy. Now, we are hopeful that night flights would be introduced soon,' he said. Rouf's views are echoed by Farooq Ahmad Shalla, owner of Indian Peacock Travel in New Delhi. 'National and foreign tourists would be benefitted from the morning and evening flights because mostly people prefer these timings,' he said. 'I feel that after witnessing last year's tourist flow to the Valley, it has forced the authorities to increase flight operations at Srinagar Airport,' Shalla told Khabar from New Delhi by phone. 'It is also a good thing that we have more flights. However, government should also take care of the environment issues,' he said, referring to growing pollution of Dal Lake and other tourist destinations. Step hailed by locals The increased air access is not just good for tourists. Locals are also happy about the new early and evening flight options. 'Last week I travelled to New Delhi and I was back on the same day to Srinagar,' said Mohammed Shahid, a government employee from Srinagar. 'I am thankful to the authorities and the airline operators who started these flights...People like me, who run short of time in offices, now they have more choices.' Shoib Ahmad, a student from north Kashmir's Bandipora town, told Khabar, 'In Kashmir, if you have early morning and evening flights, it means a good development. It is an appreciable thing that a traveller now has an option to visit outside the state and return in a single day. 'My friend travelled last week to Delhi and that very morning then he appeared in interview. He was so happy,' he said. 'I believe that time has come that government should allow airline operators to operate during the night. The situation in Kashmir is also conducive,' he added.