Choppers to take tourists to northern areas

Operators to get licenses as part of new aviation policy

Tufail Ahmed March 12, 2019

KARACHI: In line with directives of the prime minister, the government has decided for the first time to issue licenses to private airlines to commence helicopter services in the northern areas. The separate category of license will be issued in order to promote licenses and will be known as Tourism Promotion and Regional Integration (TPRI).

The firms desiring to offer helicopter services at the tourist spots will have licenses issued on their requests in two months and they will be valid for five years.

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According to the TPRI, permission for aerial services will only be granted for the agreed destinations only in the northern areas and not at any other location. Furthermore, the airfare of the service will also be lower as compared to other airlines.

Along with promoting tourism, the service is also expected to generate revenue for locals, including foreign exchange.

Initially, helicopter licenses will be issued for two tourist destinations and later licenses will be issued for other spots. Previously, only national airlines flew tourists and passengers to scenic destinations in the north.

However, Prime Minister Imran Khan PM issued directives for a new aviation policy, including ensuring helicopter services on commercial basis for flying local and foreign tourists to destinations in the north at a reasonable cost.

In the finalised draft of the new aviation policy, promoting tourism in the northern areas has been included for the first time, while directives regarding the same have also been issued to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Ministry of Civil Aviation.

According to available information, the approval of the new tourism policy for the northern areas is expected in a meeting of the federal cabinet in this month. Meanwhile, the National Aviation Policy 2019 is also expected to get the federal cabinet’s approval by the end of the current month after which applications for new tourism licenses will be taken from the airlines.

In the first stage, national airlines and then foreign airlines will be issued aerial licenses for tourist destinations. The airlines or helicopter services that submit applications with the complete required documents will be issued TPRI license within 2 months. Under the license, the aircraft and helicopters operating in these areas will not be charged any landing, housing and air navigation charges. They will also be exempt from any charges for aeronautical service and office on the schedule flights.

According to aviation experts, operators having the license will be offered exemption from duty and charges, allowing them to lower airfare and make the service affordable for a greater percentage of the population.

However, under this license, permission to travel to other routes apart from agreed locations will not be granted. It has been leant that the government will request the Federal Board of Revenue to grant exemptions to the airlines and helicopter services possessing the TPRI license.

It is pertinent to note that the draft of the new national aviation policy, prepared with the special efforts of the federal aviation minister, aviation secretary and CAA director general, has received technical and professional approval from airlines and general aviation operators.