LHC temporarily restores training flights at Walton Airport

CAA seeks 22 weeks to set up alternative venue


APP July 10, 2021
A training jet lands at the Walton Airport. Quaid-i-Azam and officers of the British government had used the airport in the past. PHOTO: EXPRESS

LAHORE:

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday temporarily restored flight training operations at Walton Airport for eight weeks.

Justice Ali Baqar Najafi passed the interim orders while hearing petitions filed by Lahore Flying Club and others challenging demolition of the Walton Airport, and sought final arguments from parties while adjourning the further hearing till the next week.

During the proceedings, the court questioned a counsel for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as to how long it would take to set up an alternative venue for Walton airport. At this, the CAA counsel replied that it would take eight to 22 weeks for setting up an alternative venue.

At this, the court ordered restoring all flying activities for eight weeks. The court observed that it would also review whether the alternative was suitable or not. The court adjourned further proceedings till the next week.

Read Govt to close Walton Airport

The petitioner club had questioned the demolition of Walton Airport, saying that no alternative arrangements had been made for the purpose. The club submitted that the flight operation had been suspended following a CAA notification. Pilots and other staff were suffering due to the suspension of the flight operation, it added.

The CAA had on May 25 notified permanent closure of Lahore's oldest Walton Airport to pave the way for launching the Central Business District project. In a bid to execute the project, the government has approved revenue sharing between the Civil Aviation Authority and Central Business Development Authority, Punjab government.

The CAA instructed the owners of training aircraft at the airport to operate their last flights. The airport will not be used for flights after that.

Walton Airport was established by the British government in 1918. It was the base camp of the British Army in World War II. The airport covers more than 1,200 kanal of land. It is located at the confluence of Gulberg, Model Town and Ferozepur Road.

More than 200 aspiring pilots from several institutions were receiving daily training at the airport. The airport, also known as Lahore Walton Club, had a historical significance as many leaders of the subcontinent and the British Raj, including the Quaid-i-Azam, used it.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2021.

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