SRINAGAR: The Srinagar International Airport is devoid of several basic facilities, mocking at the status of the lone commercial airport in Srinagar.
Curiously, the airport was recently awarded as a world’s second best airport by an international organization of airport operators.
The lacunae came to the fore during a meeting between the officers manning the airport and the chairman of airport advisory committee Tariq Hamid Karra.
“The airport has neither standard infrastructure for night operations nor does it operate direct international flights except on few occasions,” the officers told the meeting.
The meeting highlighted the lack of visa center, funnel guarding (required for flight operations during night), runway lighting according to international flight standards and approach lights for night landing.
The Sunday meeting was told that night halt of aircraft is not possible due to the non availability of hanger facilities. The hanger is a closed building structure for overnight stay of aircraft. Presently, all flights landing in Srinagar are constrained to depart in the evening due to lack of hanger facility.
However, despite the shortcomings at the Airport, the state government gave green signal for night flights from May 2016. The decision was taken during Governor’s regime.
Five airlines– Jet Airways, Spice, Indigo, Air India and GoAir currently operate 21 daily flights. The Srinagar airport, which is under the control of Airport Authority of India (AAI) and IAF, occupies a small corner of the massive IAF airbase. The airport land has actually been leased out to the 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.
Karra was also told that the airport has an erratic power supply that makes air conditioners dysfunctional on occasions. Its alternative electricity supply is not also connected to the conditioners. The public address system has not been working smoothly as well for some time.
The worst part is that the airport authorities cannot restrict movement of birds into the terminal building. Karra was informed by an official of airport that a bird also hit a spice jet aircraft while landing at the airport recently. The airport authorities also said that presence of dogs within airport premises has put the aircraft operations and the staff in danger.