Srinagar: Union civil aviation ministry has said that no airline was interested in operating night flights from Srinagar Airport.
The ministry told Parliament—in reply to a query by Srinagar MP Farooq Abdullah— that though the infrastructure needed for night flight operation was available at the airport, no airline was interested in doing so.
Farooq had told Parliament that people were facing a lot of inconvenience because night flights were not available at the airport that has been cleared for ‘international’ flights.
A tiny slice of about 200 kanals of land of the Indian Air Force base, which is built on thousands of kanals of kareva land, is maintained by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) as the Srinagar ‘International’ Airport, housing the terminal and parking space for aircraft. The runway and everything else belongs to the IAF.
After a commercial aircraft carrying members of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and IAF personnel landed in the night in August, the airport was “technically” cleared for night operations. Former governor NN Vohra later pushed the issue of night operations with the Union ministries of defence and civil aviation. The Centre recently had asked the IAF to clear the decks for night flights.
In its reply to Abdullah’s query, the Union civil aviation ministry also stated that though Srinagar Airport was equipped for international flights, airlines were not operating these because they didn’t find enough customers.
“Indian carriers are free to mount air services from any point in India to foreign destinations as per the respective bilateral air service agreements. However, actual operations are guided by traffic demand and commercial judgment of the airlines,” the ministry said.
The airport, which was given the international status in 2005, handles 38 domestic flights a day. The only international flights operating from the airport are Hajj fights.
The proposal for night flights was mooted by the Omar Abdullah-led government in 2011 but was kept in abeyance as the airport is also used by the Indian Air Force. The state government had expected that an increase in flying hours is likely to boost tourism.