Morning flights start at Srinagar Airport
GoAir Plane Lands At 7 AM
Srinagar, June 17: In a significant development, the much-needed morning flights have started at the Srinagar ‘International’ Airport, with a commercial airline, GoAir, taking the lead in starting the service on regular basis.
The first morning flight from New Delhi landed at 7 AM at the aerodrome on Friday and took off at around 7.30 AM. “The passenger response was overwhelming, with 170 incoming and 153 outgoing passengers on board,” officials said.
The development—being hailed by airlines, tourism industry and the state Civil Aviation Department officials—comes in the wake of a series of reports carried by this newspaper, suggesting that the bar on flights operation at the Srinagar Airport be lifted to give fillip to tourism and ease out congestion at the airport.
“Thankfully the Indian Air Force extended the Watch Hours (flight operation timing) partially. We started receiving the passengers at around 5.30 AM on Friday. All the arrangements had been put in place to facilitate their smooth arrival and departure,” said an airport official, insisting not to be named. “The airline officials, security staff and the ground staff were ready by 5.30 to receive the flight. The necessary paraphernalia had also been put in place in time.”
The first flight would normally land at the Srinagar Airport at around 10 AM. “To begin with, there has been an increase in Watch Hours by three hours, which is a good step,” said an official in the State Civil Aviation Department. “But more needs be done. The Watch Hours have to be extended in the afternoon also to ensure inflow of more flights to Srinagar and the ensued smooth departure and arrival of the passengers.”
Right now the airlines have been asked to operate from sunrise to 3.30 PM—something which is irking all the stakeholders. The Indian Air Force, manning the flight operations at the Srinagar Airport—cites “runway repair” for the bar on flights.
“The bar on flights should go once and for all. Once the runway work is over, the flights should be allowed to operate from sunrise to sunset. This can be followed with the night landing, which is the long pending demand of the people of Kashmir,” the Aviation Department official said. “This would fully ease congestion at the airport, which is presently giving a very bad impression about Kashmir. With almost 16 flights operating in 3 hours from the airport, the passengers have to hurry up and crowd around the airport. This is bad for the tourism image of a place like Kashmir. So the Watch Hours need to be extended fully as soon as possible.”
With GoAir taking the lead in starting morning flights, sources believe the other airlines should follow. “In this era of competition, nobody wants to lag behind. There is certainly a demand for operation of morning flights between Srinagar and other destinations. These destinations need to be identified by the concerned airlines and officials of the Tourism Department in J&K so that they are directly connected to Srinagar,” the sources said. “Now that security and manpower part has been taken care off with this regular morning flight, it should not be difficult for other airlines to follow the suit.”
Officials in the commercial airlines have meanwhile hailed the partial extension in Watch Hours. “We have been demanding it for the past many years now. Better late than never, the start of morning flights is a good step which should be followed with operation of evening flights now,” said station manager of a commercial airline, insisting not to be named.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 17 Jun 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 17 Jun 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 18 Jun 2011 00:00:00 IST
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