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Thursday, February 15, 2024

PIA to start direct flights between Karachi, Skardu to promote tourism

To facilitate the residents of northern areas. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is planning to operate direct flights from Karachi to Skardu and a safari flight from Islamabad to Skardu on the second day of Eidul Fitr.

According to a spokesman for the PIA, an Airbus A320 flight from Karachi-Skardu-Karachi would be operated for the convenience of the residents of the northern areas. Airbus flight for Skardu would take off from Karachi after making sure that the weather conditions are clear and the routine flight from Islamabad has landed in Skardu.

If the weather conditions turn bad, the airbus flight would be redirected to Islamabad instead of returning to Karachi, said the spokesperson. The flight time from Karachi to Skardu would be 2-1/4 hours, he added.

According to him, PIA was also planning to operate flights between Lahore and Gilgit and another flight from Lahore to Chitral might also be started in the next phase.

This is going to be the first time that the flights from the northern areas would be operated from Karachi and Lahore, instead of only from Islamabad. This new move is aimed at promoting tourism in the country, keeping in mind PM Khan’s vision, said the PIA spokesperson.

In March, the national carrier decided to resume flights to Swat, Gilgit, and Skardu in an attempt to attract more tourists.

On the 26th of March, the first flight of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), carrying Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and federal ministers Murad Saeed and Ghulam Sarwar, touched down at the Saidu Sharif Airport.

The flight took off from the Islamabad International Airport where a cake was cut to mark the resumption of the flight operation to the Saidu Sharif airport.

Speaking to the media after arriving at the Saidu Sharif airport, the aviation minister said flights to Swat resumed after a gap of 17 years.

He said the people fought terrorism alongside security forces. PIA’s Swat flight operation was in need of the hour, he pointed out. “The flights will not only add to the national airline’s revenue but also promote tourism,” he said.

CM KPK said that the runway will be extended so that the A380 airbus can land as well and it will be opened for international flights as well. He said that when the airport was closed, Swat was battling terrorism.

The minister thanked Mr. Murad Saeed who is MNA from Swat, Arshad Malik the CEO of PIA, and PIA as a whole for making this project possible.

Sargodha airport does not have any CAA staff, but it has an operational PAF base Mushaf.

The facility in Bannu was scaled down in 2002 due to it being inviable for commercial airliners. Till now, there is no consideration to operationalize Bannu Airport.

The ones that have been scaled down include the ones in Khuzdar, Muzaffarabad, Balakot, Bannu, and Parachinar.

The airports that have been closed are in Jiwani PN, Ormara, Sibi, Mangla, Kohat, Bhagtanwala, Mianwali, Sehwan Sharif, Mirpurkhas, Talhar and Jacobabad.

Out of the 27 operational airports around the country, 12 airports running international flights and 15 are handling domestic flights.

Read More: Op-ed: why is there a sudden increase in International air carrier operations in Pakistan

The 12 international airports operating across Pakistan are Jinnah International Airport Karachi, Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore, Islamabad International Airport Islamabad, Bacha Khan International Airport Peshawar, Quetta International Airport, Multan International Airport, Faisalabad, Rahim Yar Khan, Turbat, Gwadar, old Benazir Bhutto International Airport and Sialkot International Airport.