Night flights will start landing at the Srinagar “International” Airport from August 10 as installation of the special equipment for night hour aviation operations was completed, authorities said.
“GoAir and IndiGo are the airlines which have already agreed to start evening flights. The due diligences and the permissions (for night landing) are now in place, especially that from the Director General of Civil Aviation,” Airport Director, Airports Authority of India, Akash Deep Mathur told reporters on Wednesday.
“We will start the night landing from August 10.”
Mathur said 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.
At present flight landings at the Srinagar Airport stop by 5:30 PM during winters and 7:30 PM in summers.
The Airport Director said the decision to start nigh-landing at Srinagar was taken after stakeholders including Indian Air Force and officials from the divisional administration met here on Tuesday.
“We have sent a proposal to all the seven airlines operating and are awaiting for their latest flight schedules. GoAir Vice-President was here yesterday (Tuesday) and a part of the meeting and expressed optimism about night operations,” Mathur said.
“Initially the demand for evening flights might be less but it is expected to pick up gradually and will provide a major boost to tourism and also convenient to the local flyers especially business class and frequent flyers,” Mathur said.
“At present we have nine aprons but with the expansion we will add seven more which will provide ample opportunity for the airliners to park their aircrafts at the Srinagar Airport overnight after a late landing which will also facilitate early morning take-offs.”
Twenty seven flights land at the airport on an average day which number is set to go up after night operations begin.
Trials for night landing of flights at Srinagar will begin soon, the Airport Director said, adding security for the new arrangement would be “a top and a continuous priority.”
“Srinagar Airport is a table-top airport and there are many obstacles for night landing. The major challenge is that security has to be enhanced in the approach tunnel of the runways as well on which a continuous drill is underway,” Mathur said.
The Srinagar Airport is under direct operational control of the IAF which controls its air traffic and landing strip and also the facilities of fire-fighting and crash activities, apart from the airspace.
The terminal building comprising passengers check-in and check-out and the apron area where an aircraft is parked, is however controlled by the AAI.
The airport, surrounded by dozens of villages and orchards, is situated at a distance of 12 kms from Srinagar. Under the constant watch of the IAF, it is spread over more than 65 acres of land.
The expansion of this airport was planned after the Union Tourism Ministry recommended its “upgradation”, stating that failure to lift its facilities would lead to “bad publicity of Kashmir tourism sector.