Srinagar: Considerably affordable air fares coupled with a drop in number of Covid cases has doubled the passenger footfalls and air traffic at the Srinagar International Airport this year, officials said.
As per the official data, the Srinagar Airport handled 16.25 lakh passengers between April and October this year, which is a record high for this period witnessed at the aerodrome. During the same period last year, the Airport had witnessed less than 7 lakh passenger footfalls.
Similarly, there has been a sharp increase in the air traffic at the Airport during last seven months.
As many as 13,351 flights operated to and from the Airport during last seven months of this year. Comparatively, only 5130 flights had operated at the Airport during the same period last year.
Interestingly, October- a month which usually does not witness much of air traffic due to lesser tourist influx and even lesser frequency of travel of locals- has this year witnessed a whopping 331914 passenger footfalls with as many as 2460 flights.
Speaking with Greater Kashmir, an official said the steps taken by the J&K government to sharply bring down Value Added Taxes and sales tax on the Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) for airlines operating in J& K region to 1 per cent.
These decisions are part of slew of measures taken by the government recently to promote air traffic to Jammu and Kashmir. With the reduced airfare on account of reduction in Sales Tax and VAT on ATF, the air-traffic has increased which will boost both tourism and economic activities in the region.
It may be mentioned that Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya M Scindia has recently announced that two new airport terminals will be established in Jammu and Srinagar while a direct flight was started between Srinagar and Sharjah.
With an impetus expected from tourism influx this winter, the air traffic to Srinagar International Airport is expected to be one of the highest witnessed in the last several years.
As per the winter schedule issued by the Director General of Civil Aviation, as many as 43 to 55 flight slots have been offered to the airline companies operating to this region.
Speaking with Greater Kashmir, an Airports Authority of India (AAI) official said the winter schedule will come into effect from December 1, 2021 till March 26, 2022.
Officials say 43 to 55 scheduled flight slots are highest in the last few years and it now depends on the airlines on how many slots they utelise.
Tourism is considered as one of the major reasons for a spurt in the air traffic. It may be mentioned that domestic locales like Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal, North-East are the most preferred destinations for winter experiences among holidaymakers across the country. This was stated by the recent Thomas Cook India & SOTC's survey that covered metros, mini-metros, Tier 2 - 3 cities, 77 per cent of respondents are keen to travel in 2021 itself.