Flights to operate from Awantipora airport
Airlines Told Not To Cancel Bookings
New Delhi, Aug 30: Union Civil Aviation Ministry Monday said the flights to Kashmir valley will continue uninterrupted during the period the Srinagar Airport would remain closed for maintenance for 12 days.
The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Secretary Civil Aviation with all concerned agencies and airlines, here this evening, a statement issued by the Civil Aviation Ministry said.
“It was decided in the meeting that normal civil flights will operate to Srinagar upto 2 September and thereafter, for the period of September 3 onwards until resumption of flights from Srinagar Airport, Awantipora Airport would be used to ensure connectivity to the valley. All necessary arrangements are being made on an urgent basis to ensure flights to Awantipora Airport during the closure of Srinagar Airport for 12 days,” the statement said adding the airlines have agreed to open their bookings immediately.
GKNN ADDS FROM SRINAGAR:
Meanwhile, according to a JK government spokesman, the State Government is taking all possible steps to ensure continuation of arrival of flights to Kashmir on account of closure of Srinagar Airport from September I to 12 at alternate airport at Awantipora in view of repairs and upgradation of main airport.
According to the spokesman, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah has taken up the issue of making alternate arrangements with Defence Minister, AK Antony and Civil Aviation Minister, Praful Patel for landing of flights in Awantipora during repair period.
The Chief Secretary, SS Kapur shall hold high level meeting Tuesday to ensure necessary arrangements are put in place at Awantipora for convenience of passengers and landing and taking off flights during these 12 days.
All airlines have been advised not to cancel any advance booking made by the travellers for this period, the spokesman said.
Curiously, earlier today state Congress chief and member Parliament Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz had said that the Srinagar airport won’t close till alternate arrangement for flights is made.
The development came after Soz, met the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and urged him to get the runway repair postponed. “I discussed with the Prime Minister the difficulties that people would face due to airport closure. I told him that it would cause immense inconvenience to the people who are returning to Kashmir from different parts of India and abroad to observe Eid-ul-Fitr with their families. He assured me that the airport won’t close till Awantipora air-base is made operational and necessary infrastructure is raised there,” Soz told Greater Kashmir over phone from New Delhi.
He said: “The airport would be closed only when Awantipora air base would be available for the flight operation. I told the Civil Aviation Minister, Praful Patel, that the airport closure was unacceptable. Patel assured me that he is holding a crucial meeting with the Defence Minister in this regard this evening. So I assure you that the airport won’t close till an alternate arrangement is explored. That is my commitment.”
Soz said he urged Patel, who was in Mumbai, to get the repairs stopped till alternative airport at Awantipora was made available during the days of repair. “Patel also assured me that till a decision was taken regarding an alternative airport, no repairs would be undertaken,” he said, adding, “There is no question of closing the Airport at Srinagar till alternative arrangement is available”.
Soz assured that instructions would be passed to the Srinagar-based Indian Air Force officials soon. Pertinently, the Srinagar International Airport is under the direct control of the Indian Air Force while all other airports across the country are manned by the Airports Authority of India.
The Air Force intended to close the airport for 12 days from September 1 on account of runway re-carpeting. The move, however, drew flak from people who accused the Defence Ministry of putting them to trouble on the eve of Eid. The closure move perturbed scores of Kashmiris working in different parts of India and abroad who intended to visit the Valley to celebrate Eid with their families. The airlines too had taken a strong exception to the move, asserting that they would run into losses due to the flights blackout to the Valley. At least 15 commercial flights operate to and from Srinagar daily, with over 2000 flyers on board.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 30 Aug 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 30 Aug 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 31 Aug 2010 00:00:00 IST
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