As skies clear, people fly out of Kashmir
Srinagar Airport Handles Record 20 Flights In 4 Hrs; Caters To 6000 Passengers
Srinagar, Jan 17: After days of hostile weather, the bright sunshine Tuesday brought hope for thousands of passengers intending to fly out of the crisis-hit Valley with a record number of 20 flights taking off from the Srinagar International Airport within mere four hours.
While most of the people flying out of the Valley said they wanted to get rid of the hostile weather, which brought crisis on various fronts including shortage of food stock and fuel, others said they had no other option to leave Kashmir because the road link is snapped for the past many days and immediate chances of resumption of road traffic was bleak.
The public opinion was endorsed by statistics. While all the flights taking off from here were fully booked, officials said those landing here had around 800 seats vacant. The air traffic was suspended for the past two days due to bad weather.
TRAFFIC JAM EN ROUTE:
The rush of passengers to the airport was so huge that over a mile long gridlock of vehicles could be seen from the Airport Drop Gate to Humhama Chowk amid deafening horns and altercation between the drivers in a bid to reach the destination in time.
Showkat Hussain was one of them who on finding some drivers arguing with each other finally decided to walk on foot as he carried his suitcase on his shoulders.
“I don’t want to miss my flight and get stuck in this hell,” Hussain said while literally running towards the Drop Gate wherefrom the frisking starts. “My wife and daughters are already in (New) Delhi but I had got stuck due to some business deal,” the man living in Kanipora told Greater Kashmir.
Hussain said the biggest difficulty he faced staying back home was shortage of cooking gas. “Other things I would manage but the shortage of LPG so irked me that I decided to cut short my deal and spend vacations with my family,” he said.
CHAOS AT AIRPORT:
The presence of 3000 passengers at the airport, built to cater to a thousand odd people at a time, did lead to chaotic situation as the airline operators and security agencies had a tough time tackling the huge rush.
The passengers said they couldn’t properly hear to the flight announcements as many of them overlapped each other making it difficult for the listeners to the hear which one pertained to them.
“The airport looked messy like KMD bus stand today,” the Delhi-bound passenger Showkat Hussain said while his co-passenger Mohi-ud-Din Shah echoed similar views.
The SSP Anti-high-jacking, Abdul Rashid, and his team however managed the security clearance in time as they worked on war-footing and even pacified many irked passengers.
Officials said all the seven airliners operated their flights to Srinagar and most of them even flew additional flights except for Spice Jet and Go Air, which operated single flights. While 13 flights were scheduled, seven others were additional. Given the reports of poor visibility in the morning hours, the first flight landed at the airport at 1:45 PM while the last one flew back at sunset at around 6 PM.
Air India operated three additional flights, Jet Airways two additional flights while Indigo and Kingfisher operated one additional flight each, the sources said.
The last flight bound for Jammu however couldn’t make it to the destination and flew straight for New Delhi due to poor visibility at the winter capital’s airport, officials said.
Poor visibility, as pleaded by the officials, seems to have been the only reason for suspension of flights. Otherwise, the Beacon authorities had kept the runway clear even during snowfall.
“Keeping it(runway) is a round the clock operation done by our people. We keep it brushing… It was only because of poor visibility that the flights were suspended otherwise the runway was ready not only today but all these day,” Rawat told Greater Kashmir.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, the SSP Anti-high jacking endorsed that it was a record rush of flights to operate from the airport in winters.
“Even though during summers we on routine catered to over 20 flights but for winter it was a record because the maximum flights operated in a short span of four odd hours,” he said.
The SSP however said out-going passengers had been pouring in at the airport since early morning.
Admitting that there was congestion at the airport, he said the flights operated smoothly because of cooperation of the passengers.
As for passengers like Showkat Hussain, he on reaching New Delhi called Greater Kashmir saying he was feeling in “safe heaven” and would return to his homeland in last week of February, soon after which schools reopen in Kashmir.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 17 Jan 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 17 Jan 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 18 Jan 2012 00:00:00 IST
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