Srinagar, Mar 4: After witnessing a sharp decrease in passenger occupancy since mid January this year, ambiguity has surrounded the fate of the Srinagar-Sharjah direct flight, with last minute cancellations causing huge inconvenience to travellers. A senior citizen, who is a medico by profession, was scheduled to travel from Srinagar to Sharjah on a direct flight on March 2. However, as other travellers have been experiencing it for quite some time now, the medico, wishing to be named, said he received a text message on February 27, informing him about cancellation of the direct flight.
“My son who works in Dubai had booked the ticket for me and my wife on the direct Srinagar-Sharjah flight. The ticket was booked on February 21. The flight was scheduled for March 2 but just three days prior to the departure I got a message that the direct flight has been cancelled,” he said. The traveller said although the airline operating this service has provided him an alternative flight option from Delhi to the UAE but added that a “full and final call has to be taken by the airline on whether they want to continue the direct service or not”.
“There is no point in keeping this ticket available on their web portal and then cancelling it at the last moment. Like this the airline is putting the prospective travellers in jeopardy,” he said.
When contacted, a spokesman of the airline said the direct flight service was in the “system and schedule of the airline”. While accepting that the last minute was taking place, the airline official said they want to resume the flight in the long-run.
“It will eventually fly and become operational. It is in the system and the schedule and in the network of the airline but given the current situation there could be at times cancellations”.
Director, Airports Authority of India, Srinagar, Kuldeep Singh told Greater Kashmir that “there were no more international flights operating from the Srinagar Airport”.
Business community and frequent travellers in Kashmir have been demanding resumption of the Srinagar-Sharjah direct flight, which started operations on October 21 last year.
Last month, many travel agents in Srinagar whom Greater Kashmir spoke to said there has been a trend of late that closer to the date of departure, “this flight often gets cancelled abruptly”.
Notably, the Srinagar-Sharjah flight was benefiting thousands of Kashmiris working or studying in the UAE as they were travelling on this direct service.
Notably, after initially allowing the Srinagar-Sharjah flight to operate over its air space, the decision by Pakistan to refuse air space for the direct flight connecting Srinagar and Emirates has led to a detour of this direct service, which also led to costlier air tickets due to a longer route. This flight faced the first hiccup Pakistan refused airspace to the airliner, forcing it to take a longer route.