Srinagar: After being grounded for almost two months owing to COVID19, the Srinagar- Sharjah direct flight resumed operations on Wednesday. The direct flight service, which was flagged off by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on October 23 last year had witnessed several roadblocks.
First the denial of airspace from Pakistan followed by a sharp decrease in passenger occupancy in January this year, had derailed the flight operations of the direct service.
However, GoFirst (formerly known as GoAir) on Wednesday started resumption of direct international connection and direct international cargo operations from Srinagar to Sharjah, reinforcing its gulf operations. As per a GoFirst official, it was the first airline to introduce direct service from Srinagar to Sharjah last year, under the Air Bubble agreement.
“GoFirst flight G8 1595 after a hiatus due to Covid pandemic, departed from Sheikh ul-Alam International Airport in Srinagar at 19:45 hours and arrived in Sharjah at 22:30 hours. On the return, GoFirst flight G8 4095 will operate from Sharjah International Airport at 00:05 hrs and arrive at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi at 05:10 hrs. Go First will operate two flights a week between Srinagar and Sharjah,” said the airline spokesman.
As per the spokesman, “the resumption of this sector is poised to boost trade and tourism between J&K and the UAE,”.
“UAE and Srinagar are popular holiday destinations and Go First flights will usher convenient travel options. These services will also support burgeoning trade and investment links between Srinagar and Sharjah.
GoFirst was also the first to sign the agreement with LULU Group of Dubai for the cargo movement from Srinagar to Sharjah. With the extra focus on the Srinagar market- Go First has the vision to make Srinagar a mini hub for the international air travel and cargo,” the official said.
Speaking on the development, Kaushik Khona, Chief Executive Officer, GoFirst said: “Go First shares a special relation with the region and has had many firsts to its name in J&K. We are delighted to resume services between Srinagar and Sharjah, which could steer the economic growth of J&K. This connectivity will play a pivotal role in bilateral exchange trade and tourism between the two regions” The direct flights from Sharjah will offer seamless connections to Srinagar and beyond to New Delhi, as of now, he said.
As per the airline, GoFirst has been “instrumental in the development of air travel and cargo movement from J&K,” “Go First operated the first night flight from Jammu following its successful operations of the first night flight from Srinagar. Go First is the only airline appointed for the cargo movement of horticultural perishable and agricultural produce of J&K horticulture products – the state-owned company,” the spokesman said.
Commenting on the resumption of the flight, Director Srinagar Airport, Kuldeep Singh took to Twitter and wrote: “We are happy to restart the international connection from Srinagar once again. @GoFirstairways are operating the Srinagar Sharjah flight today with 130 passengers,”. It may be mentioned that Greater Kashmir has been highlighting the need to resume the Srinagar- Sharjah direct flight and the demand of travellers and business community to ensure that the flight is a long term measure.
“We are sure that local industry and business community will make maximum use of our international cargo facility and this flight for increasing their business This will be a big boost for the economic development of our city,” Singh said.
A statement issued by the Srinagar Airport said: The international flight operations resumed at Srinagar airport today with GoFirstAirlines flight G81595 operating on Srinagar Sharjah sector.
The flight is carrying 108 passengers. This is also the first international flight after inauguration of the International Cargo operations from our airport. This flight will now be regularly operating on every Tuesday and Wednesday at 1945 hours.
The flight can carry a maximum of three tonnes of cargo to Sharjah. The doors have now opened wide for export of our industrial, agricultural, and handicraft products. We call upon all the business houses and exporters of Kashmir to make full use of the facility.”