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Flight operations had resumed in May last year after a hiatus of three months owing to the outbreak of Covid-19. However, after air traffic resumed, Srinagar Airport witnessed 61 flight arrivals during the month of May.
The boom in air travel though was seen by the end of 2020 when Kashmir started witnessing a large number of tourist arrivals. As per Airports Authority of India (AAI) data, the highest number of passenger footfalls at the Srinagar Airport since the resumption of air traffic was 218783 in December last year which saw 705 flight arrivals.
These were all domestic flights. Director Airports Authority of India, Srinagar, Santosh Dhoke said the airport was handling almost 9000- 10000 passengers daily with almost 25 to 30 flight arrivals and at times even more.
Dhoke said the increase in tourist influx is the main reason for the sharp spike in passenger footfalls.
“Compared to many other airports with a similar passenger handling capacity, Srinagar Airport has seen a sharp increase in the footfalls. The revival of tourism in the Valley is one of the reasons for this increase as we saw a lot of rush of holidaymakers during winters,” Dhoke said.
The Airport Director said there was a plan in the pipeline to upgrade the infrastructure of both the airport terminal building as well as runway expansion to handle the increasing passenger influx.
He said the focus as of now was to ensure that all Covid-19 protocols were being followed. As per AAI data, 655 flights arrived in Srinagar during November 2020 with 191982 passengers traveled to and fro at the Srinagar Airport.
In January 2021, with 688 flight arrivals, 212491 passengers traveled to and fro while in February with 487 total flight arrivals more than 2 lakh passenger footfalls were witnessed at the Srinagar Airport.
It may be mentioned that much-awaited night flight operations at the Srinagar International Airport are likely to start by end of this month provided the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) gives its final approval. While airliner GoAir is already offering bookings for a night flight from Srinagar to Delhi for March end on its website, airport officials said the nod from the central aviation regulator DGCA is required before the Valley can witness its maiden night flight operations.
Srinagar Airport is under the direct operational control of the Indian Air Force (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, where the passengers’ check-in and check-out, and the apron area, where an aircraft is parked are controlled by the AAI. The airport witnesses operations of 25 to 30 commercial flights every day. As per AAI data, the annual footfalls of passengers at Srinagar are expected to increase from the current 3 million passengers to 5.2 million passengers.