Jammu, Srinagar, Leh airports in state of readiness for resumption of flights

All COVID-19 precautions taken; briefing given to staff

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, May 21: The Jammu and Srinagar airports in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Leh airport in the Union Territory of Ladakh are in the state of readiness for the resumption of domestic flights and are waiting for the allocation of slots by the Airport Authority of India in consultation with the Civil Aviation Ministry.
Like in other parts of the country, the passenger flights from the Jammu, Srinagar and airports, which are managed by the Airport Authority of India (AAI), were suspended with effect from March 25, 2020 when the nationwide lockdown came into force to combat the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Yesterday, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh announced that domestic flights would resume from May 25 onwards in a calibrated manner and Airport Authority of India today issued Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to the airport operators across the country for strict compliance on the resumption of domestic passenger flights.
On the basis of internal discussions going on during the past some days over the Standard Operating Procedure the authorities of the airports being managed by the Airport Authority of India have already taken a number of steps as part of COVID-19 precautions and with the issuance of SOP they have started giving final touches to such arrangements and the entire exercise will be completed within next two days.
“We have already taken all the steps as per the SOP for sanitization of passengers as well as baggage on their entry into the terminal building”, said Director Jammu Airport Pravat Ranjan Beuria when contacted, adding “the arrangements have been made in such a way that there is no rush of the passengers for the screening and COVID-19 precautions are strictly adhered to not only by the passengers but also by the airport staff”.
Even necessary instructions, which are required to be followed by the passengers strictly, have been pasted at all the important points so that neither travellers nor the airport staff face any sort of difficulty, he said in response to a question.
He said, “we are in the state of readiness to resume domestic flights and are waiting for the allocation of slots by the concerned wing of the Airport Authority of India in consultation with the Civil Aviation Ministry”.
Similarly, Director Srinagar Airport Santosh Dhoke, when contacted said, “we are completely ready to restart the domestic flights as and when directed by the Airport Authority of India”, adding “unless we get slots allocation from our headquarters it would be difficult to state how many flights will be operated”.
“We have taken all the precautions to ensure safety of the passengers, our staff and security personnel”, he said, adding “we will paste the SOP issued by the AAI at conspicuous places for the convenience of the passengers”.
Both the Directors said, “from now onwards different mechanism will be in place at the airports as part of COVID-19 precautions and the passengers will have to ensure full cooperation for their as well as for the safety of the airport staff”, adding “necessary briefing has also been given to the staff of the airports”.
It is pertinent to mention here that before outbreak of COVID-19, there was arrival and departure of 28 flights each from the Srinagar airport while as 20 flights each were arriving and departing from the Jammu airport.
However, there would be clarity about the number of flights during the lockdown 4.0 from these airports only after the release of slots by the Airport Authority of India after the approval by the Civil Aviation Ministry.
Since the imposition of lockdown the Jammu, Srinagar and Leh airports are operating only those flights which are permissible as per the guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
Though there was no response from Director of Leh Airport desite repeated calls yet sources informed that all the arrangements for start of domestic flights from the Leh Airport have also been made.