Airport Authority of India (AAI) has set in motion the upgradation of the Srinagar Airport with awarding the Rs 500-crore contract to Rites Infrastructure Ltd, a government of India enterprise, for infrastructure enhancement at the aerodrome.
Director AAI for Srinagar, Sharad Kumar told Greater Kashmir the authority has awarded the contract for expansion plan of airport to Rites Infrastructure Ltd after some initial delay.
"After finalizing the deal, the work on the expansion plan will be started within few weeks," Kumar said adding that the estimated cost of the expansion plan would be around Rs 500 crore.
Under the expansion plan, the floor area of the airport would be doubled to around 33,000 sq m from existing 16,700 sq m. To accommodate more flights, the airport would have also two new aircraft stands.
"There was dire need of expanding the floor area as the airport was earlier constructed to cater to lesser number of flights. Presently, more than 35 flights are operating from the aerodrome per day," said an airport official, adding that by increasing more space to the airport it would make the air travel hassle free.
The Srinagar Airport is facing space constraints and inadequate parking area for aircraft landings and take-offs. The airport is under direct operational control of the Indian Air Force (IAF), which controls its air traffic and landing strip and also the facilities of fire-fighting and crash activities, apart from the airspace.
The terminal building, where the passengers check-in and check-out, and the apron area, where an aircraft is parked, are however controlled by the Airports Authority of India (AAI).
The airport, surrounded by dozens of villages and fruit orchards, is situated at a distance of 10 km from Lal Chowk, the city center of Srinagar and is spread over more than 65 acres of land.
The expansion of the airport has been planned after the Union tourism ministry recommended its upgradation, stating that failure to upgrade its facilities would lead to "bad publicity of Kashmir tourism sector."
The expansion plan also includes upgradation of Instrumentation Landing Systems (ILS) at the airport.
"Outdated ILS causes cancellation of flights during winter months," the official said, adding, "Upgraded facilities would ensure operation of flights even during lesser visibility."