Srinagar: The much-awaited direct flight connecting Srinagar and Emirates, which will commence operations from October 23, has brought cheer to air travellers and the trade community of Kashmir.
The first announcement regarding the direct Srinagar-Sharjah flight was made by the Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia during his Kashmir visit last month.
However, speculations regarding the commencement date for this service at the Srinagar International Airport kept doing rounds till Tuesday night, when airliner "Go First" opened up bookings for this sector on its web portal.
A cursory look at the web portal of Go First on Wednesday morning showed that one-way airfares per passenger for October 23 for this sector was priced at Rs 24,905. The return ticket on the same sector for October 24 was priced at Rs 15,021. The scheduled departure for the flight from Srinagar is 8:30 pm and there would be four flights operating per week, an airline official said.
A travel agent said the "introductory prices offered by the airline company were quite pocket friendly”.
The travel agent said direct flights between Srinagar and Sharjah are expected to continue to cost less than what the travelers had to shell-out for travelling to the UAE from Srinagar via Delhi or Amritsar.
“This flight will save both time and money for people travelling in this sector” said Danish, a travel agent.
Confirming the new flight, an official in Jammu and Kashmir administration said the first Srinagar-Sharjah flight will be flagged-off from the Srinagar International Airport on October 23.
Meanwhile, the business community of Kashmir has welcomed the new flight operations. Musadiq Shah, vice-president of Kashmir Pashmina Organisation said it was a long-pending demand of people in general and trade community in particular that there should be direct international flights connecting Srinagar to overseas destinations.
“This will not just provide a boost to the travel community but those travelling to visit friends and relatives will also find it quite convenient to board this flight” said Shah.
Shah who also heads the Kashmir Art Retailers in Dubai said the new flight will also provide an impetus to tourist influx from the UAE to Kashmir.
It may be mentioned that earlier in 2010, a direct flight had been started between Srinagar and Dubai but was continued after a few months of operations. The international air traffic to the Srinagar International Airport had witnessed a spurt last year when a number of repatriation flights were facilitated by the Union Civil Aviation ministry from destinations such as Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan etc to Srinagar International Airport. While all these flights were operated by India-based airlines, the first international airline- Dubai-based airline Flydubai- got prevented from operating to Srinagar International Airport as it did not get the mandatory permissions.
While the latest announcement for the Srinagar-Sharjah flight has brought a cheer among people, especially frequent flyers between Kashmir and the UAE, many of them said they are “cautiously optimistic” about the announcement.
“We hope there is long-term commercial viability of this flight and that it continues for the long run. This also depends on the load factor and the passenger demand but right now the prospectus of this flight looks quite bright” said Shahid Shah, a frequent traveller.