Flying low: No chance to 'land' in inaccessible Kashmir

Flying low: No chance to 'land' in inaccessible Kashmir

“It is disappointing that I had to return from the airport for the second time in a week. I had to go to Delhi for undergoing surgery. God knows when will flights operate,” Gowhar Ahmad, a patient from Srinagar, said.

For the seventh consecutive day, Kashmir remained inaccessible as no flights could land or take off from Srinagar airport on Friday due to inclement weather.

While from Saturday to Thursday, poor visibility caused due to intense foggy conditions forced cancellation of flights, on Friday snowfall caused the disruption. “All flights at the Srinagar airport were cancelled on Friday and no flight operations took place for the seventh straight day,” an official of the Airport Authority of India (AAI) told DH.

He said on an average 26 flights operate from Srinagar daily during winters. “More than 170 flights have been cancelled in the last one week due to bad weather conditions. We expect flight disruption till December 17 as there is a prediction of more rain and snowfall,” he said.

The official said it was for the first time in the last three decades that flights got cancelled for more than five days. “In 1991, flights operation at Srinagar airport remained disrupted for four days due to heavy snowfall. But during that period only two flights would operate from Srinagar to Delhi,” he added. 

The cancellation of flights has caused huge inconvenience to flyers, especially patients, who had to travel outside the state for treatment. “It is disappointing that I had to return from the airport for the second time in a week. I had to go to Delhi for undergoing surgery. God knows when will flights operate,” Gowhar Ahmad, a patient from Srinagar, said.

He said air travel was the best option for the people in the valley as the Srinagar-Jammu national highway often remains closed in the winters. “Now I would have travelled by road, but the national highway too got closed from today due to snowfall,” Ahmad added.

However, some people questioned the decision of airlines to cancel flights on all seven days. “It is the 7th day today for all flights to and from Srinagar being cancelled due to what airport management says "fog". What the hell! In this age of Artificial Intelligence and almost all kinds of airports equipped with advanced electronic navigation systems; it is bizarre that Srinagar's Sheikhul Aalam Airport, handling about 40 flights daily, has to rely on manual navigation systems for landings and takeoffs,” Arjimind Hussain Talib, a frequent flyer, wrote on his Facebook page.

“Kashmir is almost wholly cut off from rest of the world now. Internet is still off. Businesses are down or simply winding up. Srinagar-Jammu "highway" is in a shambles; affecting and delaying transportation of goods and people. The point is why on earth the Srinagar Airport cannot have the modern navigation systems to enable flights operate in low visibility? Why this insensitivity and apathy?” he asked.

From last Friday to Thursday heavy fog engulfed most parts of the valley, affecting the visibility and causing problems to the people. This was followed by moderate to heavy snowfall from Thursday night which continued till Friday afternoon.

The meteorological department has predicted a possible spell of wet weather till December 17.

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