JAMMU: After the direct Hajj and Dubai flights were discontinued from the ‘Srinagar International Airport’, the state government is contemplating to initiate direct flights to ASEAN region as the Chief Minister has written to the Union Aviation Ministry seeking approval for the same.
“To give fillip to the tourism industry in the State, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti today urged the Centre to include Srinagar Airport among the airports in the country from where flights to ASEAN countries are to be operated,” an official spokesman said.
He said that in a letter to Union Civil Aviation Minister, Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati, the Chief Minister said the operation of flights to and from ASEAN region to Srinagar airport would give the desired push to the tourism industry in the State, which it has been craving for.
“The operation of flights from and to cities like Kaula-Lumpur, Jakarta, Bangkok, Singapore and other cities in the region would have a positive impact on the local tourism industry and bolster the State’s economy,” she said in her letter to the Union Minister.
Notably, several deputations from the Tourism industry had met the Chief Minister in last few months and requested for connectivity with ASEAN countries to tap the tourism market in the region.
Pertinently, the Srinagar Airport was declared as international airport on 11-02-2005 and subsequently, a letter from then CM Ghulam Nabi Azad to the then Union Aviation Minister Praful Patel had apprised the latter that State Legislative Council had unanimously adopted a resolution to rename Srinagar Airport as Sheikh-ul-Alam International Airport “in memory of one of the greatest Sufi Saints of Kashmir namely ‘Sheikh Noorudin Nooran (RA)’ also called ‘Sheikh-ul-Aalam”.
However, the state government over the past few years had failed to get international flights operational from Srinagar. Even information sought under an RTI had revealed that “no state government in J&K for last ten years ever approached the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to facilitate international flight operations from the Srinagar Airport.”
To mention, the only international flights which operate from the Srinagar International Airport are the annual Hajj flights. However, this year the phenomenon too was stopped.
“Srinagar is a full-fledged international airport. It is up to various airlines to operate the international flights, which in turn depends on the traffic demand,” said a tour operator.
However, most airline companies are reluctant to start international flights from Srinagar owing to “less demand” on the route.
However, members of Kashmir Inc say there is huge scope for starting international flights especially on Srinagar-Dubai and Srinagar-South East Asia sectors.