In a historic and momentous event, the inaugural international flight from Dubai, PK-234, touched down at Skardu International Airport, marking a significant stride in regional connectivity and tourism prospects.
The flight, carrying 79 passengers, embarked on its journey from Dubai at 4:15 am and, after four hours and 30 minutes, landed successfully at the picturesque Skardu airport. The arrival was met with a heartfelt water cannon salute and passengers were greeted with flower bouquets, encapsulating this landmark occasion’s spirit.
Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Secretary, Mohyuddin Ahmed Wani, lauded this development as a “Historic moment.” Highlighting the pivotal nature of international flights commencing at Skardu, Wani expressed optimism that this milestone would pave the way for enhanced travel possibilities, linking the region with the global stage. He emphasized the significance of this step in bolstering tourism and boosting the area’s connectivity.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, rejoiced in the auspicious timing of this inaugural flight, coinciding with Pakistan’s 77th Independence Day celebrations. Ambassador Tirmizi encouraged travelers to capture and share the scenic beauty of Pakistan, a sentiment aligned with the mission of promoting the nation’s natural splendor to the world. He applauded the collaborative efforts of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Gilgit-Baltistan administration in transforming this historical flight into reality.
This significant move towards promoting tourism and strengthening international bonds was underlined by Ambassador Tirmizi, who emphasized that the journey to Skardu unveiled the enchanting allure of Shangrila, making Pakistan’s captivating landscapes accessible to the global community.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) echoed the jubilation of this landmark event, recognizing Skardu’s unique position at an elevation of 7,500 feet above sea level. Labeling it a “Momentous occasion,” the CAA underscored the newfound accessibility of this region due to the airport’s status as the only one in northern Pakistan capable of accommodating larger aircraft.
The CAA reiterated that improved air connectivity with Skardu would significantly benefit the local economy and attract more tourists.
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s declaration of Skardu as an ‘international’ airport in December 2021 laid the groundwork for this achievement. However, operational limitations, including the absence of an adequate refueling facility, had initially hindered international flight operations. Thankfully, the issue has been addressed, and the facility was inaugurated on August 11. Initial international flight operations at Skardu will be carried out under Visual Flight Rules (VFR), ensuring optimal weather conditions for safe travel.
The recent surge in Airbus A320 flights connecting Skardu to major Pakistani cities has illuminated the rising tide of tourism in the region. This momentous flight signals a promising trajectory for Skardu’s place on the global tourism map, inviting travelers to explore the breathtaking landscapes and cultural riches of this picturesque destination.