Airblue set to start flight operation for Skardu next month

ISLAMABAD: With the rising tourist influx to Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) during the past couple of years, private airlines have also geared up to operate on routes to the northern part of the country.

Private Airlines may start direct flights to Skardu by mid next month amid growing demand by domestic tourists who wish to visit scenic Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) during the ongoing tourism season.

For the first time, private airline Airblue successfully run a test flight from Islamabad to Skardu on Thursday. According to sources at the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), following success of the test flight, the private airline may start regular flights to GB by July 20, 2022.

“InshaAllah, the private airline will be starting routine flight to Skardu very soon,” said Khaqan Murtaza, Director General CAA while talking to this reporter, adding that the addition of new airlines would further boost tourism in the area.

Earlier, Airblue flight was expected to land in Skardu in April 2022 as the private airline had started recruitment for handling reservations and other related arrangements.

The demand for air travel has recently witnessed manifold surge as a large number of people living in different parts of the country want to see lush green valleys, meadows, gushing waterfalls and snow-clad mountains of the region.

Keeping in view of such an increasing air traveling demand and to promote tourism in the region, the authorities concerned have reportedly issued No Objection Certificates (NOCs) to private airlines.

Earlier Gilgit-Baltistan’s Minister for Tourism, Raja Nasir Ali Khan had confirmed the development and said “Airblue is likely to start flights for Skardu from mid of August.” He said that another airline ‘North Air’ had also been awarded NOC to run its operation.

“If any private airline wants to come to GB, we will extend full facilitation to them in this regard,” he remarked and said the PIA had already been operating multiple flights to Skardu from different cities of Pakistan every week.

It may be added that Airblue would be the first private airline to operate in GB.

The cities from where the PIA was running flight operations for Skardu included Faisalabad, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Sialkot, he added.

Every week, three flights each were being operated from Lahore and Karachi, two each from Faisalabad and Sialkot, one from Multan, while from Islamabad, it was demand-drive

According to the head of Shangrila Resort Arif Aslam, despite over 40 percent increases in fare of airlines, devaluation of local currency and historic jump in oil prices, the flow of tourists in the mountainous area was very encouraging.

 

Ghulam Abbas
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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