The federal government wants to seek Chinese help for making two of Gilgit-Baltistan’s (G-B) airports ‘all weather’ to guarantee uninterrupted flights in the mountainous region, sources said on Saturday.
“The airports in Gilgit and Skardu will be upgraded, enabling aircraft to land and take off in all weathers,” sources privy to the development told The Express Tribune on Saturday.
The tourism industry in G-B has suffered immensely over the years due to frequent flights cancellation to the region, famous among foreign and national tourists for its breathtaking beauty and majestic mountains. Tourism is also a major source of income for the population in G-B and enhanced airports would play an instrumental role in expanding the industry.
The journey from Islamabad to Gilgit via the Karakoram Highway (KKH) became almost inaccessible after the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, which left the KKH damaged. The previous 14-hour journey from Islamabad to Gilgit has now stretched to 24 hours, as bumpy roads continue irking tourists.
Currently the only air transport available to G-B are ATR aircraft of the Pakistan International Airline (PIA), with only two scheduled flights per day, however turbulent weather cause cancellations on a regular basis.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2011.