Bookings for Kargil air courier service to go online; to start after Srinagar-Leh highway closes

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LEH: Online booking, check-in and issuing of boarding passes have been introduced for a key air courier service that serves the people of Kargil once the strategic 434-km Srinagar-Leh national highway closes in winter months, officials said on Saturday.

The subsidised AN-32 Kargil Courier Air Service, provided by the Indian Air Force, is operated under a special arrangement when the highway is shut for five months during winters due to heavy snowfall, they said.

Ladakh Civil Aviation Secretary Saugat Biswas chaired a high-level meeting here on Friday to ensure adequate arrangements be put in place for smooth operations of the air service, an official spokesman said.

There will be a major departure from the past practices as several operations will now be handled digitally, Biswas said.

These include booking systems, check-ins, issuance of boarding passes, cancellations, re-allotment of seats, payments and refunds, he said, adding that a robust portal has been put in place by the administration for the purpose.

Chief Coordinator of the AN-32 service, Aamir Ali, gave a briefing on the preparedness at the Jammu and the Srinagar airports for the smooth operations of the service, the spokesman said.

Representatives from the Leh Air Force Station and the Udhampur Air Command highlighted the issues and concerns of the air force during the meeting, he said.

The issues were discussed with the directors of the respective airports for plugging gaps, the spokesman said.

Biswas asked the Kargil deputy commissioner for quick appointment of liaison officers and assistant nodal officers in Jammu, Srinagar and Kargil for coordination.

The CISF has assured security arrangements, according to standard operating procedures, and issuing of security cards and free passage to the officers concerned, the spokesman said.

Representatives of divisional commissioner Kashmir and Jammu assured that facilities for Covid testing will be provided according to guidelines, he said. (PTI)