Skardu airport ready to handle int’l flights

CAA officials say flights to start after improvement in Covid situation

ISLAMABAD: As the Civil Aviation Authority (CCA) of Pakistan has upgraded and developed the Skardu Airport to an international airport, the airport in the midst of the mountainous region of the country is now ready to handle international flights.

Talking to Profit, CAA Director General Khaqan Murtaza said that the airport was now ready to handle any international inbound flight as CAA has completed work on the infrastructure and other installation related immigration etc at the airport, which has been one of the busiest airports of the country in this summer season.

The airport in Skardu was earlier being upgraded to international standards for international flights and would have an additional runway enabling wide-body aircraft to operate.

However, immediate operation of the airport as an international airport was unlikely keeping in view the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the country. “Till date, no charter or other international airline has shown any intent, which is apparently due to the high percentage of Covid-19 cases in Pakistan,” said the CAA DG, adding that the country was still in Covid red list of UK, EU, Turkey and other Gulf countries.

He was, however, hopeful that soon after improvement in Covid situation, the newly upgraded airport would be operated for international flights.

The arrivals of international flights will boost tourism as well as the country s foreign exchange.

Skardu currently has an airport for domestic flights only and needs to be connected to international ATS routes in Pakistan.

After the closure of flights to international destinations, Pakistan International Airline (PIA) even operated five to six flights a day to Skardu airport carrying hundreds of tourists to the beautiful destination. In a move to promote domestic tourism, PIA had set a record of landing six flights at Skardu airport in a day last month whereas in the past the airport had only five landings per week.

The Skardu airport is now handling flights like any other major airport of the country. The flights arrived from Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Faisalabad and Sialkot.

The beautiful destinations of northern areas may be introduced to foreigners and the PIA, as a national flag carrier, will play its role in further enhancing domestic as well as international tourism.

Apart from the flight operations of international airlines, the government also intends to start helicopter services for Skardu and Gilgit to promote tourism.

As per the CAA official, the authority is planning to promote tourism in Gilgit, Skardu, and Chitral through operating big planes. It has already given permission to foreign airlines to operate flights in Skardu and Gilgit.

 

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Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]

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