“These are embarrassing situations often faced by peoples associated with tourist industry. At times we have to make visitors sprint from drop gates to departure terminal with luggage,” said Manzoor Pakhtoon, commenting on the all too frequent traffic congestion near Srinagar Airport.
Srinagar International Airport is also known as Sheikh-ul-Alam Airport and is located at 12 kilometers north of Srinagar. It serves the city with domestic and international flights. Srinagar is the summer capital of Jammu & Kashmir state, which is currently enjoying of a calm period under heavy security measures. The main attractions of the city are the gardens, valleys, lakes, and numerous national parks.
Manzoor Pakhtoon, Chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Alliance, stated that both locals and tourists are stuck waiting in long lines at drop-gates set up before reaching the main gates. The build-up often starts at the Humhama police station before even reaching the drop-gates, adding a half hour on top of the already lengthy wait. Currently, almost 22 flights operate from Srinagar Airport, attracting thousands of travelers every day.
An official said the Airport Advisory Committee which met recently discussed a proposal for road widening to ease the problem. “It (the road widening outside the main gate) is being considered,” he said, adding implementation of the project would involve relocation of more than 100 shops from the area. Another official said for de-congesting the area, it was suggested that either the area housing shops be provided a separate access or these shops be shifted to some other place. “The decision on road widening has to be taken by state administration but for now all efforts are being made to streamline traffic.”
The airport is under direct operational control of Indian Air Force (IAF), which controls its air traffic and landing strip and also facilities of fire-fighting and crash activities, apart from airspace. The terminal building, where the passengers check-in and check-out, and the apron area, where an aircraft is parked, are however controlled by the Airports Authority of India (AAI).