AAI, Police wake up to Airport mess
More Manpower, Machines, Separate Lining Of Cars On Cards
Srinagar, June 1: With congestion at the Srinagar ‘International’ Airport proving to be an embarrassment for the Jammu and Kashmir Government, Police and the Airports Authority of India in this peak tourist season in Kashmir, the three establishments have woken up to address the mess, making attempts to put in place more infrastructure and manpower.
This comes in the wake of a news report published in Greater Kashmir recently about the congestion and security hassles at the Srinagar Airport, which is proving to be detrimental for the image of a tourist destination like Kashmir.
Taking cognizance of the report, sources said the Director General of Police, Kuldeep Khoda, took a review of the security grid at the airport and immediately ordered placement of more policemen and doubling of the check-in counters inside the Terminal Building. “Even the Chief Minister’s office called the AAI authorities and inquired about the problems,” the sources said.
According to police, it was decided to augment the security personnel to ease out congestion. “We are getting more manpower. We shall now have six security check-in counters in the security grid in the Terminal Building,” said the Superintendent of Police, Srinagar Airport, Abdur Rashid Bhat.
He said one more X-ray machine has been put in place near the entrance of the Terminal Building. “The chartered flights have also been segregated while a separate gate has been opened for airport staff,” the SP told Greater Kashmir.
The AAI has also decided to ease congestion at Gate No. 1 at Humhama where cars are lined up in queue for first baggage check-up and frisking. “We are creating a separate lane for the cars that visit the airport for receiving the relatives or guests. We are also putting in place a modern building at Gate No. 1 with additional X-ray machines. We are spending Rs 3 crores on it. The tendering process has already begun,” said the Srinagar-based AAI Director, Captain Raj K Malik.
He said in next 15 days, the airport congestion would ease out considerably. “This is going to be a world-class airport in near future. Keeping in view the tourism sector in Kashmir, the AAI is certainly gearing up to meet the ever-growing demands of the aviation sector in the Valley,” Malik said.
On Wednesday, this reporter made a spot assessment of the congestion in and outside the terminal building of the airport. While the congestion was very much visible, causing inconvenience to the flyers, airport officials and policemen were, however, seen trying to ease it out.
However, the airline officials, who spoke to Greater Kashmir, pointed out the problems which cause the congestion. “One of the biggest problems is the bar on operation of flights,” said an airline official, wishing anonymity.
He said there has been a 45 percent increase in air traffic to Srinagar in the past few months. According to official data, 323 flights have operated from the airport in February this year while in April this figure has gone up to 506. “Our Watch Hours (flight operation time) is from 9 AM to 3 PM. During this period 19 flights operate from the airport. That is too meagre a time. Till 12 we happen to have just 3 flights operating. But from 12 to 3 PM, 16 flights operate from the airport. So this is the biggest reason for congestion. Once you have the passengers of 16 flights in and outside the airport within a span of one hour or so, it would naturally shot up congestion,” the official said.
The airlines want the Watch Hours to be extended so that the congestion eases and the night landing is also available at the airport. “The Defence Ministry should take a call on the issue in the interest of public. Extending Watch Hours would mean more flights and in turn more economy to the state,” said station manager of a commercial airline. “The bar on flights should go, especially at a time when the state is boasting of giving fillip to the tourism. Otherwise it is causing huge loss to the state economy and big inconvenience to the passengers, which is not seen anywhere else.”
MORE FACILITIES REQUIRED
According to observers, the entrance to Terminal Building has to be widened for construction of more gates. “This time there is only one gate for entry of passengers and one for exit. The building hasn’t been constructed keeping in view the future prospects of aviation. Ideally there should be a gate for two airlines to overcome congestion. But here only one gate is available for 19 flights,” said an airport official. “So the AAI must consult its engineers and get the entrance of the building widened considerably because one entrance gate is too less for hundreds of passengers. At the same time, the state government must take up the issue of extension in Watch Hours with the Defence Ministry. Once the Watch Hours are extended, it would be a great relief for everyone.”
The Srinagar-based AAI Director, however, said the case has been taken up with the Indian Air Force. “We have requested the IAF to extend the Watch Hours for immediate relief of the airlines,” Capt Malik said, assuring that the congestion would be done away with shortly.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 1 Jun 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 1 Jun 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 2 Jun 2011 00:00:00 IST
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