SRINAGAR Different Airlines have shown a lukewarm response to start the night flights at Srinagar International Airport with only three carriers agreeing to commence the service even as the regulatory authority Airport Authority of India (AAI) was ready for the operations.
The Airport was cleared for night operations after first trial run of landing and take off of a commercial aircraft in August. Director Srinagar Airport Aakash Deep Mathur said that the AAI was keen on starting the night flight operations as soon as possible. Sources said that the Airlines which have opted for the night flight slots were GoAir, IndiGo and Air India.
Everything is ready on the ground to start the night flights. Even the GoAir has already agreed to start evening flights. We are waiting for other airlines to submit their proposals for starting the flights, he said.
He further added that the AAI has readied the infrastructure to start the operations. The state government is also ready. The night flight operations have been delayed only because the Airlines are yet to submit their, he said.
The Director added that all necessary permissions for night-landing operations have been granted and extending hours of operations at Srinagar Airport will provide a great boost to aviation activities and tourism sector in Kashmir.
Officials informed that after Indian Air Force (IAF) and Defence Ministry gave their nod to the operation of night flights at Srinagar Airport, the state government had decided to start the night operations from February 2016.However, the facility could not take off due to poor response by Airlines, who feared losses for lack of travellers. A senior Civil Aviation official said that the Airlines were invited to start evening flights in 2016; however, most feared losses as there was not much response to evening flights as most of the markets in Kashmir had been getting closed by dusk.
However, he said, soon after the Governor Rule in the state the issues was taken up by the government with AAI and after the successful test flight in August, the authorities are looking to start the service anytime.
At present, the last flight from the Srinagar takes off at 5:45 pm and after the night flying operations it could be extended till 10 pm. The Srinagar airport, which was given international status in 2005, handles 38 domestic flights a day. The only international flights operating from the airport are during the Haj pilgrimage. Sources said that though the increase in flying hours is likely to boost the tourism sector in the state, but the AAI may not allow night flights during winters due to foggy weather.
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