Travel bodies hail initiative, appeal other airlines to follow suit

Sabreen Ashraf

Srinagar, Dec 8: SpiceJet airline has announced operation of direct flights on the Ahmedabad-Srinagar (via Jammu), Srinagar-Ahmedabad routes from 20 December 2018.

The domestic low budget airline will start the direct flights this month with promotional fare starting at Rs 3,559 on the Ahmedabad – Jammu sector, Rs 3,979 on the Ahmedabad – Srinagar (via Jammu) route and Rs 4,309 on the Srinagar – Ahmedabad direct route.

All the new flights will be operational on all days of the week except Sundays.

Deploying its Boeing 737–800 aircraft on these routes, Spice Jet aims to strengthen its network between metro and non-metro cities.

With the direct flights, passengers from Srinagar, Jammu could now easily travel to a host of other cities both on SpiceJet’s domestic as well as international network via multiple onward connections from Ahmedabad and Chennai.

Mir Anwar, President of Travel Agents Society of Kashmir (TASK), said the development would boost tourism.

“Gujarat is also one of the main markets for Kashmir and this direct flight will increase the flow from the state. We need these types of developments in future as well from other airlines,” he said.

He urged government to encourage other airlines also for such initiatives which would also help regulate air fare.

Ashfaq Siddiq Dug, who heads Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK), said the direct flights were operational till 2013 “but were stopped after the decline in travellers to Srinagar”.

“The announcement to introduce direct flight between Ahmedabad, Srinagar and Jammu is a welcome development and very good news for Kashmir tourism industry,” said Ashfaq Siddiq.

He said tourist footfall from Gujarat had witnessed a sharp decline due to ‘negative media propaganda’ and advisory by some ‘communal forces’.

However, he said the direct flights to Srinagar and Jammu would definitely help streamline state’s tourism industry.

“For Gujaratis, J&K is the most sought-after destination and the launch of direct flights will be a big boost to the growth of tourism and hospitality sector of the state,” he said.

TAAK President said this development will also help them promote Kashmir tourism in Gujarat in a big way.

He said there was need to offer better connectivity to the other cities of India.

“There is already an existing demand and traffic for connectivity between Srinagar and Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and various other cities and these destinations need to be connected with each other,” he said.

TAAK president said they were expecting other airlines also take a cue and introduce direct flights to connect other major cities to Srinagar.

Chairman of Travel Agents Associations of India (TAAI) Jammu and Kashmir Chapter Zahoor Qari termed the step as positive one.

“We are highly thankful to the airline that they started direct flights from Ahmedabad which is also a business hub. From Kashmir valley, many people have business in Gujarat also,” Qadri said.

He also called other airlines to offer such flights.

“We are also hopeful that Spicejet will resume its Amritsar operations which they discontinued for the last one-and-half year. Amritsar operation is very essential for people visiting our neighboring country as well as for students studying across the border. The businessmen from Amritsar are also making frequent visits to Kashmir.”

Director Srinagar Airport, Aakash Deep Mathur also termed the SpiceJet’s decision on direct flights a good step and said Airport Authority of India has always encouraged such initiatives.

“It will definitely increase tourism in the Kashmir valley,” Mathur said.

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