Srinagar Airport in the Jammu & Kashmir region has been the subject of notable COVID-19 violations. Greater Kashmir website reported passengers skipping queues for compliance checks, not maintaining social distancing and worse still, not even wearing masks.
These violations bring into question the effectiveness of the Airport Premises Committee that was formed at the airport to further assist in reinforcing COVID-19 guidelines as the country is currently witnessing over 300,000 cases a day. The committee comprises of officials from the Airports Authority of India, Central Industrial Security Force and Private Air Carriers.
Complying airport passengers frustrated
Passengers complying with COVID-19 measures have said that they witnessed fellow passengers openly violating COVID-19 guidelines, claiming that Enforcement Officers failed to take preventative measures for crowd control. Furthermore, the issues were heightened by the misinformation provided by the Airport’s Public Address System, causing passengers to rush in their droves to the boarding gates.
The Director of Srinagar Airport, Santosh Dhoke, attempted to diffuse the severity of the lack of COVID-19 compliance. He said, “As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the passenger load has decreased which is causing cancellations of three to four flights daily at the airport. Few airlines had cancelled their morning flights on Saturday and accommodated all the passengers in a single flight.”
Consistent compliance required
At present, Srinagar Airport witnesses up to 40 flights per day (that too in a region where flights can be subject to short notice cancellation due to adverse weather). The Airports Authority of India predict that passenger footfall at the airport could increase from the present three million per annum to 5.2 million passengers per annum. This further reinforces that COVID-19 compliance must be more meticulous to avoid the airport becoming an epicentre of a super spreader events in the future.