PIA flight skardu pakistan
PIA flight receives a water salute at Skardu Airport on April 7, 2021. Image Credit: Supplied

Islamabad: Skardu airport is being revamped to begin international flight operations from the northern region of the country, the aviation minister has said.

The new measures are part of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initiative to boost tourism and economic growth in the scenic Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) region, said federal aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan.

The new initiative will support all weather and nighttime flight operations allowing aircraft to make low visibility takeoffs and landings. Located at an altitude of over 7,000 feet, Skardu airport is listed among the world’s highest altitude airports.

In recent months, Skardu and Gilgit emerged as the busiest airports in the country with busy domestic flight operations from all major cities of Pakistan as more tourists headed to the northern region which is home to the world’s second-highest peak K2.

The government will soon issue a notification declaring Skardu airport as the international airport, the aviation minister said, adding that the airport’s runway was being expanded for wide-body aircraft landing. Meanwhile, the government is also exploring options to build a new airport in Gilgit city.

Gilgit-Baltistan tourism minister Raja Nasir Ali Khan also confirmed that Skardu airport was being upgraded to offer improved services to welcome international flights. Khan said that the government was in touch with concerned authorities to begin international flight operations. He also extended full support to local private airlines to begin flight operations to the region.

A new private airline North Air has been issued a license to operate in Pakistan’s northern region. It will initially operate flights to and from Islamabad, Skardu, Chitral, Gilgit, and Gwadar - covering major tourist attractions The airline aims to enhance air connectivity to drive tourism and economic growth in the picturesque GB region that attracts approximately 2 million tourists.

“We are optimistic the airline will help promote Pakistan as a global tourist destination. We want to improve connectivity and fill the gap of limited flight operations,” North Air founder and co-owner Raja Nazeem ul Ameen told Gulf News earlier.