170% jump in air traffic at Srinagar Int’l Airport this year

170% jump in air traffic at Srinagar Int’l Airport this year
Srinagar Airport. [Image for representational purpose only].[File/ GK]

Srinagar: With almost 12,000 daily passenger footfall being witnessed at the Srinagar International Airport the aerodrome has of late seen 170 per cent increase in air traffic compared to last year, officials said.

As per Airports Authority of India (AAI) data, from witnessing only 2500 daily passenger footfall last year and even during April and May this year owing to Covid-19, the airport has recently seen a sharp increase in passenger influx.

On October 21, the Srinagar Airport saw a total number of 11,641 passengers travel on 92 flights, which included 46 arrivals and as many departures, an AAI official said.

With the commencement of the direct Srinagar-Sharjah flight from Saturday evening, the passenger footfall is expected to further increase. In order to ensure better passenger handling, the Divisional Administration Kashmir, AAI and other stakeholders recently held a meeting during which it was decided that there will be “no mixing of domestic and international passengers in both arrival and departures terminals”.

The meeting chaired by Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir Pandurang K Pole also took several decisions for smooth functioning of the airport and to ensure that Covid Appropriate Behavior is properly followed.

“Space for customs and immigration counters and space for Covid- 19 registration and testing must be ensured. There should be adequate space for 180 arriving passengers in the international arrival hall” read the minutes of the meeting.

The annual footfall of passengers at Srinagar is expected to increase sharply from the current 3 to 4 million passengers in the next few years, for which the Airport is all set for a terminal expansion, a project likely to begin sometime soon.

The stakeholders say international and night flight operations at the airport will also boost tourism and these steps have been welcomed by the officials as well as tourism players.

Pertinently, Srinagar 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 controlled by the AAI. The airport witnesses operations of 35 to 45 commercial flights every day.

As part of its expansion plan, 10 new x-ray checking counters will be constructed at the entry gate of the Srinagar International Airport next year, Airport officials said.

This will take the total number of x-ray counters at the entry gate to 16, which is likely to save travel time of passengers.

As part of the expansion plan, a new aerobridge (suspended, moveable tunnel which extends from an airport building to an aircraft), will also be constructed at the Airport. Apart from the recently started international flights, in a major boost to exports of horticulture produce, handicrafts and other goods from Kashmir, an international cargo terminal facility at the Srinagar International Airport is on the anvil. AAI officials told Greater Kashmir that the facility shall give a fillip to exports.

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