Srinagar: Defence Ministry may have given its clearance for operation of night flights of civilian aircraft at Srinagar airport but the extended air operations may take some time to become a reality due to infrastructure "constraints".
Night flights are being allowed to operate till 10 PM daily at the the Sheikh-ul-Alam airport which is being manned by the Indian Air Force(IAF).
Currently, the last flight out of the airport is at 5 PM while the first incoming flight lands at 7 AM. The airport handles 25 flights each day crrying an average 4,000 passengers.
"Air HQ (headquarters) has already issued instructions to extend watch hours for civil flights at Srinagar...Till 2200 hours on daily basis," Defence Minister A K Antony said in a communication to various state and central leaders who had pressed for allowing night flights.
The request was made to the minister in a bid to give a boost to the tourism and business sectors. However, J and K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is of the view that there is a long way to go for night landing of aircraft as there was a need for the Defence Ministry and Airport Authority of India (AAI) to upgrade facilities to conform to requirements of civilian flights.
Omar agreed that night flights to and fro from Srinagar has been a long standing demand but felt that what is required is a "proper infrastructure" for allowing civilian airplanes to land.
"The constraint was not so much about increasing watch hours but had to do more with infrastructure for civil flights to operate from and to Srinagar Airport," he said today.
"The runway light and the approach light will have to be made compatible with the civilian requirements and until that happens, dream of night flights will remain a dream," Omar told PTI here.
The Chief Minister said the runway light and the approach light will have to be made compatible with the civilian requirements which is not the case though three months have lapsed after the clearance was given.
The state government is hopeful that the Airport authorities and the Defence Ministry will work together to provide necessary infrastructure both at the Srinagar Airport and the designated alternative airport to cater to civilian requirements of flights.