Even as the Srinagar Airport has been continuously witnessing manifold growth in passenger traffic during last one year, the proposed infrastructure upgradation to cater the growing footfalls is moving at a slow pace.
While as the passenger traffic at the Airport grew by 18 per cent during 2018 as compared to 2017, it has witnessed 13 per cent growth during April-May 2019 as compared to the same period last year.
According to latest Airports Authority of India (AAI) data, 5.29 lakh passengers travelled from Srinagar Airport during April-May 2019 as compared to 4.70 lakh passengers in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal.
The other two international airports in Northern part of the country — Chandigarh International Airport and Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport, Amritsar have witnessed 74 per cent and 5 per cent passenger growth respectively with a huge contribution of international passenger traffic. But at present, to the dismay of flyers both local and tourists, Srinagar International Airport operates only Hajj flights in the overseas sectors.
To enhance its capacity, the recently-approved Master Plan of Srinagar metropolitan region had pitched for upgrading infrastructure and night-landing facilities at the airport that is of the preferred tourist destinations in the country. Requirement for enhancement was felt because the airport has a smaller parking area for aircraft landings and take-offs.
AAI last year had stated that they are going to set in motion the upgradation of the airport by awarding the Rs 500-crore contract to Rites Infrastructure Ltd, a government of India enterprise, for infrastructure enhancement at the aerodrome. The expansion of the airport was 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”.
Under the expansion plan, the floor area of the airport was supposed to be doubled to around 33,000 sq m from the existing 16,700 sq m. To accommodate more flights, the airport would have also two new aircraft stands. However, as per officials, Airports Authority of India (AA) is still in the drawing design process for the terminal expansion.
Srinagar Airport Director, Akash Deep Mathur said the architectural designs are being finalised at the AAI headquarters in New-Delhi.
As per officials, Srinagar Airport has seen an increase of more than 4 lakh passengers in last one year but outdated Instrumentation Landing System ( ILS) is one of the main reasons for delay of flights due to inclement weather. The Instrumentation Landing System is a ground-based instrumentation system that provides precision guidance to an aircraft approaching the runway to enable its safe landing during reduced visibility conditions, common in Kashmir during winters.
The annual footfalls of passengers at Srinagar is expected to increase from 3 million passengers to 5.2 million passengers per annum. “ The flights are expected to increased upto 40 flights in next few years. By increasing more space to the airport and improving landing facilities, air travel is expected to become hassle free,” Mathur said.