Regulatory Mechanism Needed to Cap High Airfares to Srinagar

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More than 1 million tourists have visited the picturesque valley of Kashmir in just the first four months of this year. According to official data, over 8000 passengers arrive at the Srinagar International Airport in about 100 flights being operated from the airport daily. The major chunk among the arrivals are tourists. The influx of tourists is expected to swell further amid rising temperatures in the plains of India.

The irrationally high airfares for Kashmir are a deterrent for many. Tourists are forced to choose some other holiday destination.

Surprisingly, airfares to some South Asian and Gulf nations are comparatively cheaper.

During previous years, hoteliers from Kashmir would increase the tariff manifold during peak season. To some extent, the UT administration has been successful in regulating the hotel tariff, but the sky-high airfares for Srinagar continue.

It has been the usual practice of airlines to steeply increase airfare to Srinagar during summer. Every year tour operators and other stakeholders associated with Kashmir’s tourism industry are anguished by the sudden hike in airfares. There has been frequent demand for a regulatory mechanism which must impose a maximum cap on the increase in airfares.

Till now, flights have been the most convenient option to travel to Kashmir. National Highway 44 connects Srinagar to the rest of the country and has been upgraded at a huge cost. But the unpleasant weather conditions make it non-motorable for days together due to landslides, avalanches and shooting stones. Train service from Ramban to Reasi via the world’s highest railway bridge built on Chenab River will begin soon. The Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link is likely to be completed by year end.

It shall be appropriate if the authorities put in place a regulatory mechanism for airfares and stop the airlines from exploiting those who aspire to visit Kashmir.

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