Srinagar, Oct 25: Airport Authority here said that Srinagar International Airport is all set to start night flights operation and that GoAir has already agreed to start the evening shifts. The Airport was technically cleared for night operations after first night landing and taking off of a commercial aircraft was undertaken in August this year.
Director Srinagar Airport Aakash Deep Mathur told Kashmir News Service (KNS) that the Airports Authority of India was interested in starting the night flight operations as soon as possible.
“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 Airports Authority of India is ready with the infrastructure needed to start the operations. “The state government is also ready. The night flight operations have been delayed only because the airlines concerned are yet to submit their programmes/proposals,” he maintained.
The Director added that all necessary permissions for night-landing operations have been granted and that extending hours of operations at Srinagar Airport will provide a great boost to aviation activities and tourism sector in Kashmir.
Officials informed KNS that after Indian Air Force and Defence Ministry gave nod to the operation of night flights at Srinagar Airport, the state government had decided to start night operations from lone airport in the summer capital from February 2016.However, the facility could not take off due to poor response and fear of losses by airlines.
A senior Civil Aviation official here informed that airlines were invited to start evening flights in 2016; however, most of airlines feared of incurring losses as there was not much response to evening flights as most of the markets in Kashmir were closed by the time of dusk.
However he said that soon after the governor rule was imposed in the Jammu and Kashmir, the issues was taken seriously and accordingly after the successful test flight during night hours on August 10, the authorities were looking for a date anytime to start the night operations.
Sources said that the airlines which have opted for the night flight slots were GoAir, IndiGo and Air India.
At present, the last flight from the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir takes off at 5:45 pm. Once night flying operations begin, this is expected to be extended till 10 pm.
The Srinagar airport, which was given international status in 2005 and is the main airport in the Kashmir Valley, 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. However, airport authorities may not allow night flights during winters as part of safety measures against snow and fog. The Jammu airport has been designated as an alternative airport in case of exigencies, sources said.