x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Direct flight excites Kashmiris

Residents from Kashmir said that the new Air India Express service to Dubai was a "dream come true"

DUBAI // Indians who took the first international commercial flight into Kashmir, from Dubai, yesterday said the Air India Express service was a "dream come true" for residents of the northern Indian state. Kashmir, which has been troubled by insurgency for years, opened its doors to international flights in the hope of boosting trade and tourism. The low-cost carrier's flight landed in the capital, Srinagar, where passengers were welcomed by Sonia Gandhi, the chairperson of India's ruling alliance, together with the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, and other ministers.

Mansoor Ahmed Wangroo, a Dubai-based businessman who was on the inaugural flight, said by telephone: "It was a great experience to land on my home soil. This flight was a dream come true for Kashmir." The flight follows the modernisation of Srinagar Airport, the only civilian air facility in Kashmir. The Air India Express flight will fly to Srinagar once a week but Kashmiris said they hoped the frequency would be increased soon.

pmenon@thenational.ae