Pakistan: Pakistan Airlines launches direct flight from Lahore to Skardu to boost tourism

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Pakistan Pakistan Airlines flight Skardu

Pakistan International Airlines flight receives a water salute at Skardu Airport on April 7, 2021.
Image credit: Supplied

Islamabad: In an effort to boost tourism, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has launched direct flights from the cultural capital Lahore to the scenic Skardu in the northern Gilgit-Baltistan region.

The first direct flight of Pakistan International Airlines landed at Skardu Airport from Lahore on April 7. The journey took approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes from Allama Iqbal International Airport to Skardu Airport.

The plane’s reception was celebrated with a traditional water salute. The PK-8453 flight carrying 153 passengers was warmly welcomed at Skardu Airport surrounded by snowy peaks offering a glimpse into the natural wonders of the area.

Skardu Deputy Commissioner Karim Dad Gutay, PIA employees and other officials presented flowers to the passengers of the inaugural flight. A cake-cutting party was also held at Skardu Airport to celebrate the moment.

New travel lane

Officials said the new itinerary will open a new travel corridor for domestic and international tourists. A one-way ride on Lahore-Skardu Road will cost around 7,550 rupees ($ 49 USD).

Gilgit-Baltistan, Minister of Tourism, Raja Nasir Ali Khan, said that the two weekly trips on the new route would greatly help boost tourism in the region, as he pledged to elevate the local tourism sector to “new heights.”

Pakistan Airlines launched the new flight route connecting Punjab with the northern regions of Pakistan just days after the resumption of flight operations to Swat – also known as the Switzerland of the East.

“Two direct flights from Lahore [to Skardu] Syed Zulfiqar Bukhari, Chairman of the National Tourism Coordination Board (NTCB), said that it will be launched in time before Ramadan and the tourism season while Karachi will soon also be connected, “which will improve access to the north of the country.”

PIA Restructuring Plan

Meanwhile, the federal government approved a 457 billion rupee restructuring plan for Pakistan Airlines to make the national carrier financially viable. Job cuts will also be part of the reform plan, and at least 25 percent of the current workforce or 3,500 PIA employees will lose their jobs while the airline will also close its unprofitable routes and share international airlines with other airlines.

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