Jammu, Mar 29: The Srinagar-Sharjah direct flight has been a runaway success for the economy of Jammu and Kashmir as the initiative is boosting both tourism as well as a trade here.
The Flight has gained popularity among travellers of J&K who are residing in the middle east besides a large number of international tourists have started visiting J&K directly from UAE.
The flight was flagged-off by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on October 23, reviving the direct air link between the valley and the UAE after 11 years. “We declare it open from today. This will help in boosting tourism and bring more investment in the Union Territory,” the Home Minister said at the inauguration event.
Despite witnessing initial hiccups, the flight operating from a longer route now has gained popularity among Kashmiri travellers.
The first flight, operated by Go First, took off for Sharjah at 6.30 pm IST and landed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) around 9 pm IST.
As per the officials, thousands of passengers including people of Kashmir and tourists have travelled on the route since the inauguration of the flight by the Home Minister. The Srinagar-Sharjah flight is taking an extra 40 minutes after Pakistan refused to allow the use of its airspace. However, flights have good occupancy despite the hurdle created by Pakistan.
The flight has also gained popularity among the trade fraternity also. A senior Trade union leader said that the trade fraternity is happy about the initiative from Lieutenant Governor and supported by the central Government. He hoped that more flights are started from Srinagar airport to international destinations.
Direct international flights as well as international cargo operations of Go First between Srinagar and Sharjah, resumed operations after a break owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. “GoFirst flight G8 1595, after a hiatus due to the Covid pandemic, departed from Sheikh ul-Alam International Airport in Srinagar at 19:45 hours and arrived in Sharjah at 22:30 hours. On the return, GoFirst flight G8 4095 will operate from Sharjah International Airport at 00:05 hrs and arrive at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi at 05:10 hrs. Go First will operate two flights a week between Srinagar and Sharjah,” said the airline spokesman.
He added that the resumption of operations in this sector will boost trade and tourism between Jammu and Kashmir and the UAE as both are popular holiday destinations.
Meanwhile the designation of Srinagar International Airport as the custodian for the import and export of goods directly from Srinagar to international destinations would also boost trade in Kashmir.
The commissioner of customs has notified the Srinagar airport as custodian for the import and export of goods from abroad at the airport’s cargo terminal.
“With this authorisation and notification by the government of India, we can now offer our services to the business community for the import and export of goods directly from Srinagar,” Srinagar airport director Kuldeep Singh said.
The officer invited all the airlines to make full use of this facility and commence their cargo operations from Srinagar airport.
“We also call upon the business community of Srinagar and surrounding areas to expand their horizons, dream big, and turn the world into their market by making full use of this great opportunity,” the airport director said.
He is hopeful that this facility will be a huge step in the direction of economic development and create many jobs by multiplier effect in the catchment area of the airport.
Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industries (KCCI) expressed gratitude to Lieutenant Governor J&K, Manoj Sinha for resuming direct flights from Srinagar to Sharjah, and hoped the Srinagar – Jeddah flights be also started soon. The KCCI thanked LG Manoj Sinha for resuming the air connectivity.
An owner of a reputed travel agency in Srinagar said that with the help of the Srinagar- Sharjah flight, the business has started picking up. “We are now receiving a lot of enquiries from the middle east for different destinations of Kashmir. We welcome and express gratitude to Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha for taking concrete steps that will help us to regain the lost glory of trade,” he said.
Pertinently, a 31-member group of investors from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) participated in the first ever overseas investment summit in Srinagar. They highlighted that J&K has potential for investments in different sectors and such investments will be mutually beneficial to India and the UAE, especially Kashmir.