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Ladakh

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Airfare
By Kunzang Chosdol, Tuesday, May 16, 2017

LEH:
Sonam Nurboo, Airport Authority, Leh: According to the guidelines of International Civil Aviation Organization, the capacity of the airport should be 20 to 25 square meter per passenger, but the airport of Leh has less than 1 square meter per passenger. Since the airport has been constructed 40 years back, it cannot meet up the facilities which should be there today. During that time, few flights were happened to operate but today more than 12 to 13 flights run daily, especially during the summer season.  Thus, the footfall in the peak season is incoming 2,500 and outgoing 3,000 passengers in a day. The present capacity of the airport is 150 but it handles 1500 passenger. Keeping in view of these things the airport must be five times bigger than the existing. 

For instance, the main reason for high airfare is because of the limited airlines in Ladakh. They work on demand and supply, when there is a good demand they raise the fares and when there is a less demand they decrease the fare as well as the frequencies. But in the case of Air India, govt. airlines the fare and frequencies remain suitable and fixed for all season.

If the infrastructure will be developed, we get a good chance to introduce more airlines in Ladakh and the fare could be more affordable and suitable because when there are good choices there will a competition among themselves. 

The main reason for not introducing aircraft to Leh is that the operational area is under the airforce. Due to lack of proper operational area and facilities, we are unable to introduce more flight. Due to the terrene condition of Ladakh, the instrument such as the lighting of landing ground could not be installed which makes the flight unable to land during the day. Most of the flight land in the morning time only because of the limited infrastructure.

The expansion of airport plan has been there since from last five years and the airport authority has kept a budget for the same. The work couldn’t be commenced because of the land dispute with the army. Recently, it was decided to hand over 11.8 acres of land to us by the army and also got the work permission, hopefully, the expansion work will be carried out soon. 

The recently launched scheme of Govt. called Regional connectivity scheme or Udaan is not applicable to Leh airport. The main aim of this scheme is to revive the unused and underused airports in India into functional but Leh being the major tourist destination the viability is good so it doesn’t fall under RCS. There are 400 airstrips in India out of which only 125 is maintained by the airport authority. Out of 125 airports, only 75 has a regular flight. So to make all these airports functional, RCS is focusing on Tier I and Tier II cities.

In the first phase of RCS, the airport authorities are going to make 20 defunct airports functional in 2017. Though Thoise airport is in the list of Regional Connectivity scheme, but it is not been included under these 20 airports.  Hopefully, it will be applied in the coming years.

The latest terminal building of 1600 square meter is going to be constructed, the estimated cost of which is ₹ 200 crores.  The bay for about five Airbuses 320 with aerobridge is going to be constructed, as presently there is a bay for only two airbuses with no aerobridge facilities.

In the coming years, more flights are hoped to introduce which can get competition which will lead to decrease in the air fares. They prefer landing only in the morning period, so if we get five bay, we can manage the flights more easily otherwise we usually exchange timing of flight to land in the peak season.

Solution:
•    If infrastructure will develop, more flight can introduce.
•    More slots can be extended if more flight care introduced thereby decreasing the air fare.
•    The facilities should fulfill according to the fast growing rate of the passenger.
•    The airport should be extended so that more flight can have a chance to introduce in Leh.

Tsering Samphel, President District Congress Committee, Leh: The high airfare in Ladakh is a very big problem for the locals. Since the Ministry of Aviation has made the open sky, the private airlines are running according to their economy. They are focusing on the tourists who can easily afford such huge fare but has been actually affecting the pockets of locals. The main reason is that there is no airfare regulation to control and check on the rise and fall of airfare.
The ruling party has to seek out the problem face by the locals as they have their own Govt. at centre also. CEC and minister should keep on taking up the issue very rigorously and should visit the concerned minister purposely in order to get the issues solved. Taking a backseat in Ladakh could not solve the issue. They should invite the concerned minister to see the ground reality so that they can take the problem seriously and solve it. 
As an opposition party, we have taken up at our level to all the concern stakeholders. 
Solutions:
•    Proper Regulatory Authority should appoint to check and control the private airlines for a long term.
•    For the short term solution, the ruling govt. should take up the issue very strongly in order to ease the public. 
•    To make the RCS applicable to Leh airport.



 
                   
 
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