By Shabbir Mir
GILGIT: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) operated its first flight from Gilgit to Skardu on Monday, with chief minister Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) inaugurating the service and top judges of the region as first passengers.
Chief Judge of the Supreme Appellate Court (SAC) Justice Rana Shamim and judges of SAC, besides other passengers, boarded the flight that was started on the directives from the Supreme Court.
The apex court, last week, took suo motu notice and asked PIA to start flights between Gilgit and Skardu – two major towns of G-B nearly 300 kilometres away from each other.
At the Gilgit airport, G-B Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman saw off the passengers amid cheers and hopes for success of the initiative that could boost tourism, the main source of income in the mountainous region.
International flights at Skardu
The chief minister said Skardu will get direct flights to four countries for facilitating trade and tourism. “Flights will be started to Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, Nepal and Sri Lanka,” CM Rehman said.
The facility will particularly benefit the large number of people from G-B visiting Iran and Saudi Arabia for religious events. Similarly, those engaged in trade with China will also benefit from it, he added.
Rehman hoped that air service to the home of mountains like K2, Rakaposhi and Nanga Parbat will attract more adventurers. He thanked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif whose keen interest ensured uninterrupted service between G-B and Islamabad.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th, 2016.