Highway closure means skyway robbery: Airfares to Kashmir increase by 400%
Srinagar, Feb 13: Since Srinagar-Jammu highway has remained largely off or dangerous to tread on in 2019, the airline companies have taken complete advantage of it and increased the airfare to and fro Kashmir by more than 400 per cent.
This is despite the fact that Governor Satya Pal Malik, earlier this month, sought intervention from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reduce the airfare after scores of Kashmiris were stranded in various states.
A cursory look at the airfare chart set by the airline companies for Delhi to Srinagar suggests the cost of air ticket has been hiked by another 20 to 30 per cent during this week.
The airfare from Delhi to Srinagar, which normally was between Rs 4000-5000 per passenger, now costs Rs 15000 to Rs 20,000. Similarly, from Srinagar to New Delhi, the airfare ranges between Rs 7,000-15000 for the current week.
From Mumbai and Kolkata, the airfare to Srinagar is much higher than the cost of a one-way trip to nearby foreign countries.
For Mumbai to Srinagar, an air ticket sells at Rs 24,000 to Rs 35,000, while from Kolkata, a one-way air ticket costs more than Rs 20,000. Interestingly, an air ticket to Dubai, Malaysia and Singapore currently would cost a traveller only Rs 12000 to Rs 18000.
The undue hike in the airfare is giving a tough time to stranded passengers at various places and tourists aspiring to visit the valley in the coming weeks.
Thousands of passengers, who are stranded at Jammu and face immense hardships, cannot afford the mounting airfare.
“A simple meal here costs over Rs 100. Even if we end up buying an air ticket, there is no surety whether or not the plane will take off on its scheduled date,” said Aamir Ahmad, a Srinagar based student, who is stranded in Jammu.
Tourism players too are aghast over the hike which they claim spoils the tourists’ plans to visit Kashmir.
“All the tourism players are currently busy with promotional activities in outsides states and countries. But our hard work goes in vain due to the authoritative approach of airline companies,” said Peerzada Fayaz Ahmad, a prominent tour operator.
Admitting the airfare was affecting the tourism of Kashmir, Director Tourism Nisar Ahmad Wani said they had a meeting with the officials of the airlines, wherein they were asked to control the fares.
“The meeting was called by the Advisor to Governor Khurshid Ganaie at Director of Tourism office. A committee was formed to check the hike in airfare. The Advisor to Governor told the officials to regulate the airfare,” he said.