SRINAGAR: The Indian Air Force (IAF) has refused to give a stretch of land to the Srinagar airport authority despite being asked for it a number of times in the past two years. This was told to the chairman of the airport advisory committee and Member of Parliament from Srinagar, Farooq Abdullah, on Wednesday in a meeting.
A source who attended the meeting told Kashmir Reader on the condition of anonymity that 12.5 acres of land required for aircraft parking has not been given to the Airport Authority of India, which comes under the Ministry of Civil Aviation and is responsible for civil aviation infrastructure.
‘This land could help us park six more aircrafts at the airport, which at present can hold only nine,” the source said. “This was told to Farooq sahab, who said he will take it up with the Defence ministry for approval.”
Getting this land is part of a major plan for expansion of the airport, but the plan has been hanging for the past many years. The airport authority has also proposed another terminal and a cargo building in today’s meeting, the source said.
The IAF has over the years refused a number of requests from the AAI, including clearance for night flights. These refusals are the main reason why the Srinagar airport, which was granted international status twelve years ago, is failing to live up to the status.
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. On this land is 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 still with the IAF.
At present, five airlines – Jet Airways, Spice, Indigo, Air India and GoAir – carry domestic passengers. The airport now has the required infrastructure for operating night flights, including required runway length, runway lights and adequate staff at the aerodrome.
Sources said that Farooq Abdullah was also asked to get a nod from the Government of India for the operation of international flights. At present, sources said, three countries – Dubai, Singapore, and Malaysia – have been engaged with for operating international flights.
“The infrastructure required for the operation of the international flights is already in place. We only need clearance,” the source said.