The winters are here and air carriers will be faced with new challenges of low visibility and even snow blockage in parts of India. Jammu and Kashmir, like every year, is covered in a blanket of snow, which has resulted in closure of Srinagar-Jammu highway. This leaves commuters moving in and out the valley with only one choice – travel by air.
As comforting as it sounds to have an alternate means of travel, it burns a deep hole in the pockets of those travelling from summer capital to other destinations and those coming home. This has now become an annual tradition, where air carriers are seen taking undue advantage of the situation in J&K.
Flight fares soar higher than snowfall
Several passengers are complaining about air carriers hiking their fares to the Valley whenever heavy snowfall shuts the roadways. The prices of flight tickets have skyrocketed and are being sold at anywhere between Rs 9,000 to Rs 11,800 on Srinagar-Jammu-Delhi sector.
"The sharp increase in airfares hits our business, besides giving a lot of trouble to the people," some travel agents were quoted as saying by The Greater Kashmir.
One travel agent, Athar Yameen of Travel Agents Society of Kashmir said the issue was taken up with the government, but to no avail. The agent noted that this is the peak season for students or patients to travel and hiked fares make it only difficult for them.
"It acts as a death knell to tourism sector as prices shoot up making Kashmir an unaffordable destination. Despite taking up this issue with the government there is no action," Yameen was quoted as saying.
"My surgery is scheduled to be held on January 12 in a hospital in New Delhi. In view of the weather conditions here, I opted for air travel. However, I had to pay Rs 11,000 for a ticket," one citizen said of the high fares.
Many criticized the air carriers on hiking fares at a crucial time, going as far as calling it distress profiteering.
"During winters airlines looting people from/to Srinagar by hiking fares.When actually fare should be low in winters as there is no other feasible connectivity from Kashmir to rest of the India. Plz take note & let not passengers suffer," another Srinagar resident Owais Shah noted.
Due to heavy snowfall, flights operations had also been suspended in the valley. On Thursday, flights at Srinagar airport finally resumed, and witnessed a heavy demand for tickets to New Delhi, Jammu, Mumbai and other places.