ISLAMABAD, Aug 3 (APP): Private Airlines may start direct flights for Skardu soon amid growing demand from domestic tourists who wish to visit scenic Gilgit Baltistan (GB) during ongoing tourism season.
The demand for air travel has recently witnessed a 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 travelling demand and to promote tourism in the region, the authorities concerned are issuing No Objection Certificates (NOCs) to private airlines.
Gilgit-Baltistan’s Minister for Tourism, Raja Nasir Ali Khan on Tuesday confirmed the development and said “Airblue is likely to start flights for Skardu from mid of August.”
Talking to APP he said that another airline ‘North Air’ had also been awarded NOC recently 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.
The cities from where the PIA was running flight operation 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-driven.
To a query, he replied Skardu airport started operation during the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) regime, but completed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) govt which made serious efforts in that regard.
The airport was being upgraded by the present government to welcome international airlines that, according to Raja Nasir, were in contact with the authorities concerned in Pakistan.
He said the airport infrastructure including points of arrival and departure, lounge and others were being revamped to handle the international tourists in best possible way.
The initiative was aimed at bringing the airport at par with international standard so that international tourists could be facilitated in an effective manner, he added.
He said the Federal Aviation Ministry had already been requested to provide modern weather equipment for Skardu airport.
“Two runways are completed,” Raja Nasir said, adding there was enough space for expanding the airport.
Transformation of the airport on par with the international standard would not only boost exports, but also tourism in the GB, he noted.
According to the minister, up to 700,000 local and foreign tourists thronged the GB since May to enjoy its mesmerizing weather and eye-catching mountainous terrain.