A groundbreaking moment unfolded as the first international flight originating from Dubai touched down at Skardu airport, signifying a historic milestone for the region. The PK-234 flight embarked on its journey at 4:15 am from Dubai, carrying 79 passengers on board, and successfully completed the four-hour and 30-minute voyage to land at Skardu International Airport.
Upon its arrival, the flight was greeted with a water cannon salute, a ceremonial gesture often reserved for significant events in aviation. Passengers were welcomed with bouquets of flowers, adding to the celebratory atmosphere.
History in its making ! First international flight to Skardu landing safely is indeed a historic moment. It opens up new possibilities for travel and connects Skardu with the rest of the world. It's a great step towards promoting tourism and enhancing the region's connectivity. pic.twitter.com/neyTWCBEe0
— Office of the Chief Secretary, Gilgit Baltistan (@csgbpk) August 14, 2023
Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Secretary Mohyuddin Ahmed Wani hailed this achievement as a historic juncture. He remarked that the initiation of international flights to Skardu heralded new opportunities for travel and connectivity, positioning the region on a global map. Underscoring the impact on tourism and enhanced connectivity, Wani expressed his optimism about the positive transformation this development would bring.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, shared his elation about the historic flight, aligning with Pakistan’s 77th Independence Day. Encouraging travelers to capture the country’s beauty through visual narratives, Ambassador Tirmizi commended the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Gilgit-Baltistan administration for their instrumental role in making this milestone a reality. He deemed this step pivotal in promoting tourism and fostering international connections, thereby unveiling Pakistan’s enchanting landscapes to the world.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) emphasized the significance of this occasion, considering Skardu’s unique location of 7,500 feet above sea level. The successful operation of international flights to this picturesque destination is poised to bolster travel accessibility and contribute positively to the local economy. Known for its stunning landscapes and natural beauty, the Skardu region is anticipated to attract a surge of visitors due to improved connectivity.
Skardu airport stands as the sole northern Pakistani airport with the capacity to accommodate larger aircraft, distinguishing itself from Gilgit and Chitral airports with their shorter runways. Despite being declared ‘international’ in December 2021 by former Prime Minister Imran Khan, the airport faced operational restrictions due to a lack of adequate refueling facilities for international flights. However, these impediments have been addressed, and an inauguration ceremony for the new refueling facility took place on August 11.
Initial international flight operations at Skardu will be executed under the Visual Flight Rules (VFR), optimizing favorable weather conditions for travel. This landmark development follows a successful month of Airbus A320 flights connecting Skardu with major cities in Pakistan, showcasing a burgeoning interest in tourism.