BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
GILGIT: Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Hafeezur Rehman on Monday inaugurated flight operations between Gilgit and Skardu.
The PIA flight - with 40 passengers onboard - was first in a decade to operate between Gilgit and Skardu, the two main towns of GB.
The resumption of flights came days after chief judge supreme appellate court, justice Rana Muhammad Shamim took suo moto notice and ordered PIA to resume its service between the two major towns which are nearly 300 kms apaprt from each other.
Besides ordinary passengers, justice Rana Muhammad Shamim and other judges of the apex court boarded the ATR plane seen off by chief minister at about 9 am at Gilgit airport.
“Coupled with peaceful atmosphere of the region, I’m sure this facility will ease up travel difficulties for tourists between the two towns,” chief minister told reporters at the airport.
Skardu International facility
While talking to media in the VIP lounge, the chief minister said flights from Skardu airport will be operated to four countries to facilitate trade and tourism in future.
“We are discussing the issue with PIA management and hopefully it will start soon,” said the chief minister.
Once finalized, flights from Skardu will be started to Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Chief minister said the flights will facilitate passengers wishing to visit Iran and Saudi Arabia to take part in religious events. Similarly he said those engaged in trade with China will also benefit from it.
Rehman hoped the tallest mountains including K2, Rakaposhi and Nanga Parbat, which G-B is home to, will attract more mountaineers from Nepal and Sri Lanka once the flight service is resumed.
The chief minister thanked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif whose keen interest ensured uninterrupted flights between GB and Islamabad. “Until last year, hardly 15 fights a month could make it to Gilgit,” said the chief minister. “But now the number of flights to Gilgit has reached 28 a month.”
He also thanked PM for increasing the allowance to pilots who fly sorties to G-B, which has ensured regular flights to this mountainous region.