Airfares witness sharp increase, fliers upset, Government unmoved

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As the tourist rush has picked up in Kashmir, the airfare on flights operating from New Delhi to Srinagar is skyrocketing. Reports said that the immense hike in airfare has made it unaffordable for passengers particular people from other cities who want to visit the valley.

Many locals and tourists told Kashmir News Service (KNS) that from the past one month passengers traveling to Kashmir are getting tickets at highly expensive rates. Many tour operators in the valley said that due to huge increase in air fare tourists from other states are being forced to cancel their visit to the valley.

They said that visitors prefer other places over Kashmir. “A Delhi- Srinagar ticket which usually priced at Rs 4000-Rs 6000 has now gone up to 10000 to 20000,” one of the tour and travel operators here in Srinagar told KNS. ‘Tourism industry is the backbone of Kashmir’s economy and this industry needs to be strengthened and developed by all the players whether it is Government or the private associations and unions related to Kashmir tourism. The private players have to ensure that hotel rates are not arbitrarily hiked and the Government has to address the problems of the hoteliers, travel agents etc.

As the airfares are hiked by the airline companies, the Government is least bothered to address this issue,” said one of the top businessman here in Srinagar. “The hike is because of the tourist rush. If a person wants to get a ticket at cheaper rates they will have to book tickets a month or two in advance. Even the flight rate from Srinagar to Jammu starts from Rs 7,000 or Rs 8,000 and goes up to over Rs 10,000. This scenario will, in fact, continue till Amaranth yatra,” another tour operator told KNS wishing not to be named.

During peak tourism season in Goa, between November to March, we don’t see any hike in airfares on this sector and the airlines flying between New Delhi, Goa or Mumbai, Goa or from any other city to Goa charge normal fares from the customers but one fails to understand why the airline owners fix such a huge rates for Srinagar bound flights during our tourist season? Question’s one of the hoteliers here in Dalgate. He said that the steep hike in airfares causes heavy loss to Kashmir tourism industry, people who book their air tickets in advance (two to three months before), don’t face any problems but all those people who want to travel to Kashmir and the same is planned within days or a week they will definitely drop the idea to visit Kashmir.

People complaint that the highly expensive air fare is not only affecting tourists but has been bothering patients of the valley who have to visit other states for treatment. “With the onset of the scorching summers in rest of India people from other states are rushing to the valley to spend holidays etc. There has been a lot of inflow of visitors from south also.

Unfortunately due to high prices tourists now prefer other destinations like Manali, Himachal, Khandala etc. A large number of tourists have been contacting us regarding bookings but they change their plans on hearing about air fare,” revealed one of the tour operators in lalchock Srinagar.

One of the Kashmiri Journalists associated with the National News paper said that he had planned to come to Kashmir from New Delhi in the next month but for June and mid-July, the rates are quite high. “It is difficult even for the next month. Completely overcharged for the entire June and mid July,” he said.

It is to mention here that the IAS officer and managing director of J&K State Power Development Corporation, Shah Faesal recently took a jibe at the high airfare on Twitter. Faesal highlighted that the Delhi-Srinagar airfare for May 23 was exorbitantly high between Rs 13500 and Rs 27000. “I wish that we could return to Vedic age. Heard that Vimanas flying on Delhi-Srinagar circuit used to be really inexpensive those days. And the aviation regulator was tough. On 23rd May, DEL-SXR economy class fare is INR 13500-27000. How do we go home?,” Faesal had wrote on Twitter.

When contacted Director Tourism Kashmir Mehmood Shah told KNS that, airlines should increase the number of flights for Srinagar which will help to keep a check on airfares. Director Airport Srinagar told KNS that they have nothing to do with this as the airfares are set by the Airlines. Commissioner civil aviation Department, S. Katoch when contacted told KNS that he cannot comment over the issue as he is in the plane. (KNS)

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