As winter arrives, flight arrival a worry at Srinagar airport
jkupdate.com | 26-Nov-2017 03:41 AM
  • As winter arrives, flight arrival a worry at Srinagar airport(File Photo)

SRINAGAR: Despite repeated promise made by the government of Jammu and Kashmir to install required equipment at the Srinagar airport to allow flight operations in low visibility condition, not much has been done to realize the project even though the winter season has set foot in Kashmir valley.

The foggy weather in the winter season often disrupts flight operations at the airport. The state government has now asked the airport authorities and the airline operators for better coordination in the winter season.

According to the sources, the government has asked the authorities to closely monitor the weather and plan the flights as per the weather forecast.

As per the airport officials, there is a need for upgrading the existing Instrument Landing System at the airport as it would help flights to land in low visibility condition as well.

The system operates as a ground-based instrument approach system that provides precision lateral and vertical guidance to an aircraft approaching and landing on a runway, using a combination of radio signals and, in many cases, high-intensity lighting arrays to enable a safe landing.

A senior airport official said, “Most of the airports outside [Srinagar] have upgraded landing facilities which facilitate operation of flights even during visibility of only 500 metres; we need the same facilities for smooth operation of flights in low visibility.”

Meanwhile, night landing at the airport has also not been started even years after the former government—led by Omar Abdullah of the present opposition National Conference—announced it.

The Indian Air Force and the Defence Ministry gave a nod to the operation of night flights at the following public pressure and the state government decided to start night operations from February last year.

Visibility at the airport, especially in the winter season, is further lessened due to the smoke from hundreds of brick kilns in close proximity of the airport.

The government has failed to plan their relocation and rehabilitation, and has now directed for closure of the brick kilns in winters.

The Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, recently held a meeting where it was decided to shut the brick kilns in close proximity to the airport. “These brick kilns will not operate and remain closed during the months from November to April as the smoke emanated by them reduces the visibility in the area,” a document of the minutes of the meeting reads.
“Installing facilities for night landing is the job of the Airport Authority of India; we can take measures at the district level; whatever measures are required to increase the visibility; let’s hope that closure of brick kilns helps in increasing the visibility,” an official said.

Pertinently, the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti,recently urged the government of India to include the Srinagar airport among India’s airports from where flights to ASEAN—Associationof Southeast Asian Nations—countriesoperate.

Mehbooba had said the operation of the flights to and from these countries would give the state’s tourism industry the ‘desired push it has been craving for’.

“The operation of flights from and to cities like Kuala-Lumpur, Jakarta, Bangkok, Singapore and other cities in the region would have a positive impact on the local tourism industry and bolster the state’s economy,” she had said in her letter to the concerned minister.

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