Flying hours curtailed at Srinagar Airport
Airlines Flay Decision; Stakeholders Cry Foul
Srinagar, Mar 14: Not surprisingly though, the Srinagar ‘International’ Airport is again in news for wrong reasons. This time the Indian Air Force, manning the runway operations at the aerodrome, has decided to curtail the flight operation time by one and a half hour, much to the annoyance of the airlines who want the Defence Ministry to revoke the decision.
The development comes amid demands for night-landing facility at the Srinagar Airport, with stakeholders approaching the Prime Minister-appointed job panel led by Dr C Rangarajan with the plea, while the Member Parliament and state Congress Chief Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz raising the issue in Rajya Sabha recently.
Informed sources said the new flight operation timing, technically referred to as Watch Hours, would be from 9 AM to 3 PM instead of 9 AM to 4.30 PM for 15 to 20 days with effect from March 15. This, they said, is being done in the wake of “runway repairs.”
“The IAF wants to repair shoulder of the runway and has informed the airlines about the decision,” the sources said.
The decision has however evoked stiff resistance from the commercial airlines, who accuse the Indian Air Force of putting them to trouble time and again.
In September 2010, the Srinagar Airport was shut for at least 15 days on account of runway repairs. The flights were allowed to operate from the Awantipora Air Force Base, 25 kms from Srinagar, which caused huge inconvenience to the flyers.
“Last year the airport was closed on account of runway repairs. This time IAF is again curtailing the Watch Hours, citing runway repairs. Why wasn’t the entire work completed then?” asked station manager of a commercial airline, insisting not to be named. “It is a sad state of affairs that we are being taken so for granted. It is too irksome that we are at the beck and call of the Air Force.”
The airlines are arguing that the IAF should do the repairs during night in the wake of improvement in temperature. “They can do it after a month or so during night. Why curtail Watch Hours at a time when the tourism season has just started to pick up and the airlines are contemplating to operate more flights to the Valley,” they said.
Sources said the airline officials have asked the Airports Authority of India to urge the IAF to reconsider the decision in public interest. “There are 15 flights operating to and from Srinagar Airport every day. With curtailment in Watch Hours, we are not able to ensure quality passenger care. We run short of time and treat customers like cattle, who are there to be pushed into planes,” said the station manager, urging the Defence Ministry to revoke the decision.
The AAI, however, has made it clear that it can’t help as the runway was the sole prerogative of the Air Force.
The Srinagar-based AAI Director, Capt Raj K Malik, said the curtailment won’t affect passenger care. “We will ensure that no inconvenience is caused to passengers,” he told Greater Kashmir.
People associated with the business community in Kashmir describe the decision as unfortunate. “This is not for the first time such a thing is happening. That is why we have been pleading for establishment of a civil airport in Kashmir,” said a member of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), insisting not to be named. “Every time the tourist season starts picking up, the Airport is either closed down or Watch Hours are curtailed. This is hampering arrival of more flights to the Valley besides causing huge inconvenience to the flyers.”
According to sources, in vie of the upcoming tourist season, nine more flights were scheduled to arrive and depart from Srinagar airport in the coming days. However, the IAF decision to curtail the flying hours is going to severely hamper the addition of new flights, sources said.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 14 Mar 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 14 Mar 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 15 Mar 2011 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM FRONTPAGE
- Panchayat polls from April 13
- Code of Conduct comes into force
- Govt to deploy 72000 security men
- Stray dogs attack boy
- West failed to resolve Kashmir: Israel
- Second explosion at nuclear plant
- Geelani agrees to attend IT Conclave
- Flying hours curtailed at Srinagar Airport
- Bollywood back in earlier avatar
- Shutdown, clashes in Sopore
- Elections to 6 LC seats on Apr 13
Srinagar: The former chairman of Public Service Commission, Akther Murtaza, passed away on Sunday after protracted illness. He is survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters. People More
- Srinagar City
3-day national seminar begins at KU
GK NEWS NETWORK
Srinagar, Mar 14: Academics Monday underscored that being a global language, English has influenced almost all other languages, including the indigenous ones. “We are living in a global village. Anything More
Jammu, Mar 14: Admitting that hydro electric projects set up by National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) in the state were constructed without terms and conditions, Minister for PHE, Taj-Mohi-Ud More
Kashmir imports mutton, chicken, eggs for Rs 1600 cr annually: Experts
Srinagar, Mar 14: Farmers and civil society members today expressed concern over ‘squeezing of grazing grounds’ in Kashmir. Interacting with experts and researchers at a state-level conference ‘Sustainable More