ISLAMABAD: The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), after completing all on ground arrangements and legal procedures for operating internationals flight from Skardu airport, has formally written to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for including the airport in the list of international airports of Pakistan.
Speaking with Profit in this regard, CAA Director General Khaqan Murtaza informed that although immediate international flight operations were unlikely as only Pakistan International Airline (PIA) flights could fly on this route due to technical issues, other airlines would be allowed to operate to and from this route.
“We have consulted two international firms for the study and evaluation of making the airport an all-weather destination as flight operations are disturbed by bad weather conditions frequently,” he added.
“Until then operations will continue under the visual flight rules (VFR),” he said.
Under the VFR, an aircraft is intended to operate in visual meteorological conditions i.e. clear weather whereas clouds, heavy precipitation, low visibility, and other adverse conditions are to be avoided.
“However, we have asked PIA to at least start international flight operations for pilgrims and zaireen from Gilgit Baltistan (GB) as they need to stay in various cities of the country for days to get a flight to Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran and a direct flight from Skardu airport would facilitate thousands of such people,” the CAA official said.
He added that direct flights could be operated for tourists in the next summer.
It may be recalled here that during the last summer season, as many as five to six domestic flights were operated on this route making Skardu and Gilgit airports among the busiest airports of the country.
The cancellation of international flights following Covid-19 lockdowns had also helped PIA to operate maximum flights to GB from various cities including Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Sialkot. Thousands of tourists spent their vacations in the mountainous region last summer.
In January 2020, Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan had announced the decision to upgrade Skardu airport to international standards.
The upgradation of the airport included the construction of a new runway, new terminal building, and provision of other facilities to cater to international flight operations.
Skardu airport was listed among the world’s highest altitude airportsgh.