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In a bid to rescue foreign tourists left stranded in Gilgit and Skardu due to flight disruptions caused by a current financial crisis, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has reinitiated its operations in the northern regions. PIA, the national flag carrier, has scheduled six flights from Islamabad to the northern airports, allowing tourists to board return flights and conclude their travels.
The situation arose following a series of flight cancellations by the national carrier since October 14, leading to hundreds of foreign tourists being marooned in the picturesque yet remote mountain towns of Gilgit and Skardu. PIA’s inability to operate flights has not only disrupted the travel plans of these visitors but has also compelled them to incur additional expenses for lodging and sustenance during their extended stays.
Despite reaching an agreement with Pakistan State Oil (PSO) to ensure a stable fuel supply, PIA faced further challenges, with an additional 53 flights being canceled on a subsequent Sunday. This brings the total number of canceled PIA flights, both domestic and international, to 650 since mid-October, as PSO reduced fuel supplies due to the airline’s unpaid dues.
However, a PIA spokesperson announced on a recent Saturday that the airline had successfully negotiated terms with the PSO, assuring the public that fuel supplies would return to normal in the near future. This statement followed reports of the PSO increasing the credit limit for PIA to Rs500 million, with the airline committing to make daily payments of Rs100 million. These developments offer a glimmer of hope for PIA, with the prospect of gradual improvement in its flight operations.