City masterplan envisages international flights from Srinagar airport

City masterplan envisages international flights from Srinagar airport

SRINAGAR: Fourteen years after Srinagar Airport got international status, it is yet to operate full time international flights. The state government has now made yet another proposal for throwing open the airport for international flights after several other such attempts did not yield any fruit. State governments have also picked up the issue many times, but with no results.
The latest proposal has come in the recently approved Master Plan of Srinagar metropolitan region. The document has said that the airport shall be made open to international aircraft operations under Limited International Airport Category, especially to the Gulf and SAARC countries.
“This move is expected to boost the economic development of the State by way of promoting tourism, horticulture, handicrafts, etc,” said the report.
The airport was formally granted international status by the Government of India (GoI) in March 2005. The GoI funding of Rs 130 crore expanded the terminal and increased its parking stands from four to nine, making it able to serve both domestic and international flights. In 2009, Air India started weekly flights to Dubai from here for the first time in the airport’s history. but these were terminated in the beginning of 2010.
Before Jammu and Kashmir became a contested territory between India and Pakistan, the airport was previously used only by the British Air Force. During the Indo-Pakistan War of 1947, the airport received Indian military troops. Although it was small and lacked landing aids, an airdrop was still carried out successfully here on October 27 that year. In 1979, the Airports Authority of India established a civil enclave at the airport.
The Master Plan document has said that a key requirement for making Srinagar a global city is to upgrade its air transport facility to make the flow of tourists frequent in the city. It has also asked for the operation of international flights to Gulf and SAARC countries.
As per the report, the government should modernise the terminal building to meet the volume of air traffic, enhance the waiting space and up-grade the night landing system. It has asked for the setting up of X-ray machines and the operation of an elevated corridor from Humhama Chowk to inside the airport’s main gate for hassle-free movement of passengers.