RAWALPINDI: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) have decided to operate flights to Swat, Skardu and Gilgit with the aim of promoting tourism.
Saidu Sharif Airport in Swat was downsized for safety reasons in 2004 and would be operational once updated and operational by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez said the national flag carrier has decided to operate two weekly flights to Saidu Sharif from Islamabad starting next month to facilitate tourists.
He said PIA also plans to operate flights between Lahore and Skardu and Lahore and Gilgit starting next month.
The spokesperson said the CAA had already been informed of the PIA’s plan to begin flight operations for Saidu Sharif and once the airport was operational, the airline would announce its flight schedule.
Established in 1978, the airport, which operated two daily flights from Islamabad and Peshawar, was closed during its militancy in the Swat Valley.
A senior civil aviation authority official said construction work had begun at the Saidu Sharif Airport, which was now finished.
Flights from Lahore to Skardu and Gilgit will begin next month
Meanwhile, out of 44 airports in the country, 27 are operational, six have been downsized and 11 have been closed. Nonfunctional airports include Sargodha and Bannu airports, CAA said.
Sargodha Airport has no CAA staff, but it does have a PAF base of operations, Mushaf. The Bannu plant was downsized in 2002 due to the non-commercial profitability of the airlines
However, presently there are no proposals under consideration to implement.
Among the airports that have been scaled down are those of Khuzdar, Muzaffarabad, Balakot, Bannu, Parachinar and Saidu Sharif. The airports that have been closed are in Jiwani PN, Ormara, Sibi, Mangla, Kohat, Bhagtanwala, Mianwali, Sehwan Sharif, Mirpurkhas, Talhar and Jacobabad.
Currently, 12 international airports operate across the country. These 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, which was privately built by the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
However, the CAA said that if the airlines found the position commercially viable, a downsized airport could be upgraded or made operational within 90 days.
Of the 44 airports located throughout the country, 12 operate with international flights and 15 airports with domestic flights.
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