Srinagar: The Srinagar ‘International Airport’ has been declared as the world’s second best airport for providing the best services to passengers, director Airports Authority of India (AAI) RN Shinde said on Friday.
Shinde told KNS that the airport ranked 4.77 on a scale of 5 for services to passengers.
“We are second in providing good services to our valued passengers in the group of (airports) handling two million passengers per year. So, it is really an excellent performance shown by aII (sic),” Shinde was quoted by KNS as saying.
“This has been achieved with the coordination, cooperation, excellent efforts and sincerity by all my colleagues, section in charges and security personnel. This is a team work and I feel proud of it,” he said.
The survey was conducted by Airport Council International.
Should rank 1st in frisking
Just ahead of the entrance gate, vehicles carrying passengers have to negotiate iron barricades, while paramilitary troopers let them in one at a time
There is a separate entrance for the VIPs
As you enter the gate, while still seated in the car, a paramilitary trooper checks your ticket and another slips a mirror under the vehicle
You get down the car and take your luggage to the X-Ray machine. A paramilitary trooper (there are lots of paramilitary troopers, local police are not trusted for the job) searches your body. You emerge out of the X-Ray shed from the other side. While you and your luggage were being screened in the shed, your vehicle had been thoroughly searched by another set of paramilitary troopers.
You board the car and immediately curve around a barricade. Then another barricade. More than half-a-kilometre later, you arrive at the entrance to the ‘International Airport’. A policeman quickly glances at tour ticket and I-card and lets you in.
At the entrance, luggage again undergoes X-Ray scan and you another bout of body search.
Again, at the entrance to the departure hall, your laptop/eatables are subjected to X-Ray scan and policemen again search your body. As if the three X-Ray scans are not enough, a team of policemen sitting on a desk ask you to put your laptop on and then stamp a tag you have attached to it.
Then you are constantly being reminded that you ‘should identify your checked-in luggage’ as ‘unidentified luggage’ will not be boarded onto the plane.
You are not allowed to carry cabin luggage
Before boarding the plane, there is another body search and manual frisking of laptop bags.
Since the runway belongs to the Indian Air Force, the fighter jets have the first right to fly. That means if a jet has to take a sortie, you will have to wait for whatever it takes for the jet to take off.
It categories airports as per the number of passengers who travel through it. Shinde said the Kashmir airport fall in the category of two million passengers and have been ranked at two. He said there are 30 parameters considered for ranking including layers of security checks, behaviours of security forces etc. However he did not remember the ranking of first and third ranked airport.
However, the survey raised many doubts in the Valley because of the
security hassles faced by the passengers at the highly guarded Airport.
Shakeel Qalandar, a member of Kashmir Centre of Social and Development Studies expressed surprise over the survey saying, “it is a crude joke”.
Qalandar said passengers are being subjected to harassment and the presence of armed forces scares every visitor.
“How can it be termed as the second best? Our demand has been to do away with security hassles and the airport should be spared for civil operations only. Passengers miss flights because of security issues and frisking at the entrance,” he said.
Netizens mocked at the ‘AAI’ claim on social media platform Facebook.
“If Srinagar Airport is second best in the world, then Babademb must be the biggest port of the world,” wrote former Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh Bilal Nazki.
“Srinagar-A city of surprises: After being declared as one of the cleanest cities a couple of years ago, now Srinagar International Airport is the world’s second best airport as claimed by its director,” said Dr Mohammad Saleem Khan on Facebook.
“From today I will travel by road. It’s like saying Pakistan will still win Asia Cup,” wrote RJ Sardar Nasir Ali Khan.