In what could be the last hurdle cleared for night-landing facility to become a reality at the Srinagar International Airport, an inspection team from the civil aviation regulator Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will visit the summer capital on January 22 for conducting an on-ground inspection.
The team will carry out an assessment on whether flights at the Srinagar Airport could land during late evening hours. At present flight landings at the Airport are able to take place till 5:30 PM during winters and 7:30 PM during summers.
Speaking with Greater Kashmir, director Srinagar Airport Sharad Kumar said visit of DGCA team is expected to be the final one before the aviation regulator provides its “final nod” for night-landing at the Srinagar Airport.
“We hope there is nod from DGCA team but incase there are any more requirements to be fulfilled we will do so. Depending on the timing of the DGCA approval, night flights will be started,” Kumar said.
Kumar said a safety inspection team from IndiGo airlines recently paid a visit to the Srinagar Airport while as other airlines are also scheduled to conduct the safety checks in days to come, he said.
“At present we have almost 22 flights operating to and from the airport and the night-landing will further enhance this. The night-landing is most apt for “summer schedule” as that is when number of flights to Srinagar witnesses an increases and touches more than 36 flights,” Kumar said.
Spokespersons of various private airlines told Greater Kashmir that they are awaiting the “final nod” from civil aviation ministry to start evening flights for Srinagar.
In a recent visit to Srinagar, Union Civil Aviation Minister, Jayant Sinha had said that most of the arrangements for night landing at the airport here have been completed. Sinha had told media persons that approach lights are being built on the runway so that landing takes place in night and they also help in safer landing even in low visibility.
The Srinagar Airport is under direct operational control of the Indian Air Force which controls its air traffic and landing strip and also the facilities of fire-fighting, apart from the airspace. The terminal building comprising passengers check-in and check-out and the apron area where an aircraft is parked, is however controlled by the AAI. The airport, surrounded by dozens of villages and orchards, is situated around 12 kilometres from Srinagar city centre.
Meanwhile, tourism stakeholders have welcomed the initiative for night-landing and hoped evening flights start soon. Director Tourism Mehmood Shah said the evening flights, especially during summer months will help to ease out the air traffic to Srinagar and also provide a boost to tourist influx.
“At present foreign tourists from Thailand and Malaysia after travelling to Delhi have to spend overnight there but evening flights will ensure that these tourists reach here on the same day. We are keen that late evening flights kick-start as soon as possible. This will provide more opportunities for weekend travellers to visit here and even local air travellers wishing to travel back home on the same day would be able to do so,” Shah said.