While Pandits, the Hindus of Kashmir, are far from being rehabilitated in their home and hearth despite the abrogation of Article 370, the once terrorism-ravaged Kashmir is witnessing a bumper tourist season for sure, a proof of which is the traffic at the Srinagar airport. A record 90 flights operated from the airport, with 15,014 passengers on 28 March.
The flights at the Srinagar airport included 45 arrivals and departures, said Kuldeep Singh Rishi, Director, Srinagar airport. “It was the busiest day in our history,” he said.
The 45 arriving flights carried 7,824 passengers while the 45 departing flights had 7,190 passengers in all.
The previous record of handling 13,700 passengers in a day was registered at the Srinagar airport earlier this year. The tourist flow to Kashmir has increased after the opening of Asia’s largest tulip garden in Srinagar on 23 March.
According to Singh, the airport is at present handling 2,400-2,600 passengers an hour, far beyond its capacity of handling 950 passengers per hour. The congestion at the airport is even causing some inconvenience to the travellers.
“The arrangements and facilities at Srinagar airport have been set up to handle 25 lakh passengers per year. But we are handling more than double the capacity,” Singh said, and added that the infrastructure would be improved to managed the increasing load. “We have plans to construct a new terminal building at a cost of Rs 1,500 crore,” he said.
The authorities are all set to handle more flights in the coming days as they said today was just the beginning of the summer schedule.
Director Srinagar Airport Sharad Kumar confirmed that this was for the first time that such a record number of flights operated from the said airport. He said that the figure is likely to increase as the summer schedule has just begun.
The director said that authorities are upgrading the infrastructure to avoid the congestion. “To avoid the congestion of passengers, a new building is coming up to provide more space for passengers. As of now, we have taken sufficient effective measures to avoid congestion at Airport,” he said while replying to a query.
A large number of tourists are arriving in Kashmir, both by road and by air. In December 2017, it was announced that the airport would handle night operations. Later in August 2018, a test flight was conducted by DGCA Team and it was passed.
On 19 March 2021, commercial night flying operations at the airport started as Go-Air flight bound for Delhi had taken off.
The airport has appointed Landrum Brown to carry out a study of passenger flow to identify the problem areas and suggest remedial measures.