Passengers suffer as closure of air space forced cancellation of all flights

Heavy rush of passengers at air ticket counter near entrance of Jammu Airport following cancellation of flights on Wednesday. —Excelsior/Rakesh
Heavy rush of passengers at air ticket counter near entrance of Jammu Airport following cancellation of flights on Wednesday. —Excelsior/Rakesh

Railways issue security alert

Nishikant Khajuria
JAMMU, Feb 27: As all commercial flights were cancelled following closure of air space for around four hours since this morning amid escalating tension between India and Pakistan, thousands of passengers had to suffer because of sudden abandoning of flight operations for the whole day.
The affected passengers were seen running here and there in worry at Jammu, Srinagar and Leh Airports, which were among nine airports in Northern India where the flight operations remained suspended on February 27 after the air space was declared closed by the Government around 9.30 am.
Only two flights had operated from Jammu and Srinagar Airports this morning before closure of the air space while all other flights throughout the day remained suspended in view of the emergency situation even as operations to all the nine airports were resumed in the late afternoon.
According to SSP AHJ Airport Jammu, Mohammad Aslam, only two flights of Indigo Airlines, one each on Delhi-Jammu-Srinagar-Delhi route and another on Lucknow-Jammu-Srinagar-Lucknow route operated before closure of the airspace around 9.30 am.
Director Airport Authority of India, Jammu, D K Goutam and Director AAI, Srinagar, Akash Deep confirmed that only two flights operated while rest of 20 remained suspended by the different airlines even as the air space was re-opened around 1.30 pm and a ferry of SpiceJet, without passengers, took off from Jammu at 1.45 pm.
However, no flight operated at Leh Airport, where the air traffic remains highest during these winter days because of closure of the Srinagar-Leh National Highway. Due to closure of the air space, the N32 sorties for ferrying stranded passengers from Srinagar and other areas were also not conducted today.
Due to security reasons, the Chopper service to Mata Vaishno Devi cave shrine from base camp Katra also remained suspended on Wednesday.
Pertinent to mention that nine airports, including the ones in Jammu, Srinagar, Leh, Pathankot, Amritsar, Shimla, Kangra, Kullu Manali, Pithoragarh were shut this morning for the civilian flights in view of the war like situation after some Pakistani fighter planes violated Indian air space.
Following closure of the air space, some of the flights en route to Jammu, Leh and Srinagar Airports were diverted to their origin stations
Even as the air space was re-opened around 1.30 pm, no flight operated at Jammu, Srinagar and Leh Airport as the airlines had cancelled all their flights for Wednesday. Because of cancellation of the flights, the designated passengers at Jammu, Srinagar and Leh Airport, had to suffer.
At Jammu Airport, heavy rush of passengers was witnessed at the air-ticket and information windows near entrance of the Airport where the people were seen jostling with each other for refund or re-booking of their air travel tickets.
Inside the Airport complex also, a mix of disappointment and annoyance was visible on the faces of hundreds of passengers, who had been waiting for arrival of their flight for onward journey to respective destinations and were now preparing for return to home.
Around 65 flight, across airports and airlines, including some international carriers, were cancelled Wednesday after authorities clamped restrictions on commercial flights to and from nine Northern airports for about four hours since morning. Meanwhile, the Indian Railways has issued a security alert across its network in view of the escalating tension with Pakistan even as no trains to Jammu and Kashmir have been cancelled so far.
According to the Railway Protection Force, security has been beefed up on board all trains operating in border areas and on railway premises. “We have issued an alert to all General Managers of zones in view of the prevailing security scenario. All trains to the mainland and Valley in Jammu and Kashmir have additional security personnel on board. We have also identified specific targets related to railways and have beefed up security there,” RPF DG, Arun Kumar told a news agency. He also said that no trains to Jammu and Kashmir have been cancelled so far.