Gilgit-Baltistan: The first direct international flight from Dubai to Skardu landed on Monday morning with 80 passengers onboard, a spokesperson for PIA said, while passengers and officials said the route would make Pakistan’s picturesque northern regions more accessible to foreign travelers and create ease of travel for locals working in the UAE.
Skardu is a beautiful valley located at an altitude of 7,000 feet above sea level and surrounded by snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes, and lush green valleys. The region is home to a variety of wildlife, including snow leopards, ibex, and markhor.
Skardu International Airport was inaugurated in December 2021.
“PIA’s first international flight with 80 passengers from Dubai to Skardu landed at 8:45 am,” PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez Khan told Arab News.
In a statement released to media, PIA called the flight operation “a momentous occasion for PIA and for the people of Pakistan.”
“The launch of this new flight route will make Skardu more accessible to international travelers, and will help to promote tourism in this beautiful region,” it added. “Skardu is a hidden gem, and we believe that it has the potential to become a major tourist hub in the region. This new flight route will make it easier for people to visit Skardu and experience all that it has to offer.”
The Dubai-Skardu flight, approximately four hours and thirty minutes long, will operate once a week. PIA is offering a special introductory fare on this route.
Speaking to Arab News, passenger Muhammad Ibrahim, 30, who has been working in the UAE for the last 10 years, said he was “very happy and very thankful” for the launch of the direct flight.
“Earlier, we couldn’t travel home for a few holidays because four to five days were wasted just to reach home,” he said. “Now Alhamdulillah, due to this flight, we can reach home in a single day … Now we can easily travel home two to three times in a year, which was not possible in the past.”
Muhammad Kazim, another passenger, said the direct flight was “economical and time-saving.”
“The direct flight is a ‘blessing’ for us,” Kazim told Arab News.
“I have been working in the UAE since 2015 and traveling from Dubai to Skardu was a headache for us. First you have to travel to Islamabad or Karachi and then to Skardu. And in case of bad weather, sometimes a whole week was consumed in travelling. It was not only a financial burden but also our holidays were wasted. Now we are very happy because we can reach home in one day.”
Aziz Ahmed Jamali, additional chief secretary, said Pakistan’s ambassador in the UAE, Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, played a “very important role” in connecting the two cities.
“Let the efforts grow. Both tourists and Middle East-based workers are direct beneficiaries of this direct flight,” he added.
Source : Arab News