Director of airport says 30 percent seats vacant in planes, no real need for more flights
SRINAGAR: It is more than a year since clearance was given for the start of night landing at Srinagar International Airport, yet the facility remains uninstalled.
Director of Srinagar International Airport, Sharad Kumar, told Kashmir Reader that the airport lacks additional 600 metres of lighting for the start of the facility, the land required for which is yet to be procured.
“Otherwise, all other requirements are complete,” he said. “Once we are able to procure the land, which we have to get from the state government, the lighting will be put in place. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will give clearance and the facility will start.”
The Srinagar airport occupies a small corner of the massive IAF airbase which controls it. The airport land has actually been leased out to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) by the IAF and houses the terminal building where passengers check-in and depart. The AAI also controls the apron area (where an aircraft is parked) while the airspace and runway control is with the IAF.
Last year, the state government gave the green signal for night flights from May 2016. When that did not happen on schedule, a meeting was held between the officers manning the airport and the chairman of the airport advisory committee, who was at that time Tariq Hamid Karra, the PDP leader who has since joined the Congress. It was conveyed in the meeting that the lack of funnel guarding (required for flight operations during night), runway lighting according to international flight standards, and approach lights for night landing were the reasons for the delay in starting the service.
Last week, on Thursday, a second meeting was held on the issue. The airport director said that the Deputy Commissioner Budgam was told to share the details of the land procurement process. “Once we get the details, we will forward the process,” Kumar told Kashmir Reader.
Kumar said that night landing is required when there is a rush of flights during the day, but at present most of the flights have 30 percent seats vacant.
Five airlines– Jet Airways, Spice, Indigo, Air India and GoAir – currently operate 21 daily flights at the Srinagar airport. Night landing facility will likely increase the number of daily flights.
“But,” Kumar said, “the state government should initiate steps to let the flow of tourists increase.”