Srinagar, Dec 17: A Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs has recommended the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to provide incentives/subsidies to airlines operating at Srinagar International Airport in order to make their international flight operations commercially viable.
Recently Srinagar-Sharjah flight has started operation from Srinagar International Airport, before it the airport remained confined to hosting only domestic flight operations.
Given the high tourism potential and export opportunities in the region, the Parliamentary Committee headed by Congress MP, Anand Sharma in its report has recommended the MHA to facilitate operation of international flights from Srinagar aerodrome.
"The Committee notes the viability issue in conducting flights to international operations from Srinagar airport. The Committee recommends that some sort of facilitation/incentives like granting subsidy in fuel price, etc. could be offered to the airlines to make international operations financially viable for them to conduct international operations from Srinagar airport."
"The Committee believes that in absence of direct international flights to Srinagar, the real tourism potential of the UT may not be realized to its full potential as international tourists have to take connecting flights to reach Srinagar which is expensive and time consuming. Therefore, the Committee recommends that the MHA may take up the matter with Ministry of Civil Aviation and take appropriate steps to remove bottlenecks and commence international commercial flights operations from Srinagar Airport at the earliest," reads the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee.
While the government has responded in its action taken report as "Srinagar airport is fully capable of undertaking international operations. In fact, flights which are being carried out from Srinagar airport during Hajj are mainly all international. However, airlines have to come forward to undertake international operations from Srinagar airport after working out the financial viability in conducting international operations from Srinagar airport."
On October 23, Union Home Minister Amit Shah inaugurated direct international flight service between Srinagar and Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
Prior to the Srinagar-Sharjah flight, the first international flight from the Srinagar Airport to Dubai was started on February 14, 2009 by Air India Express, but the once-a-week service was discontinued due to a low demand.
It may be mentioned that the central government on October 6 declared the Srinagar International Airport as 'major airport'. “In exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-Section (i) of Section 2 of the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008 (No.27 of 2008), the Central Government hereby declares the airport at Srinagar as Major Airport," said the gazettes notification issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Pertinently, Srinagar airport witnesses operations of almost 40 to 45 commercial flight arrivals every day. As per AAI data, the annual footfalls of passengers at Srinagar is expected to increase from the current 3 million passengers to 5.2 million passengers per annum.