— File photo
The PIA aicraft visible from the airport road. Residents are calling for enhanced security in wake of last night's attack. — Photo by Zahir Shah Sherazi
PESHAWAR: The Emirates airline has officially suspended its flight operations to and from Peshawar in the wake of yesterday's attack on the city's Bacha Khan International Airport.
In an email to Dawn.com, the airline's spokesperson said the decision was made keeping in mind the safety of passengers and Emirates staff.
“Emirates has suspended flights to and from Peshawar effective 25 June 2014 until further notice, due to the security situation at the destination. Affected passengers will be rebooked on alternative Emirates’ flights and are asked to check on emirates.com for further updates. We apologise for the inconvenience caused – however, the safety of our passengers and crew is a top priority and will not be compromised," the statement said.
On its website, Emirates said, "As this situation is beyond the control of Emirates, liability towards our passengers is limited in accordance with Emirates’ Conditions of Carriage for Passengers and Baggage. Additionally passengers are advised to contact their travel insurers.
Earlier this month: Cathay to stop Pakistan flight operations
The Emirates website says "flight cancelled due operational reasons".
Screengrab from Emirates website
Two flights were diverted from the Peshawar Airport to Benazir International Airport in Islamabad and Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore in the wake of yesterday's attack, according to a spokesperson of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Earlier in the morning, a Shaheen Airlines flight had landed at the Bacha Khan International Airport, resuming flight operations after the attack last night.
CAA confirmed that an Etihad Airways flight from Abu Dhabi would be landing in Islamabad while a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight No PK895 coming from Kuala Lumpur would be landing at Lahore airport.
Sources in the CAA said that the flights were diverted due to security reasons and routine operations would continue after clearance.
They also said that security measures were enhanced around the airport whereas additional security was also deployed to avert any untoward incident.
CAA spokesman Abid Ali Qaim Khani said that the Etihad Airways flight was not diverted but that the Rawalpindi and Peshawar flights had been combined due to low traffic and it would make its landing in Islamabad.
He also added that the CAA has requested enhanced security at the Peshawar Airport in the wake of last night’s attack.
Policemen stand guard at a check point outside the Bacha Khan International Airport in Peshawar on June 25, 2014 after an attack on a Pakistan International Airlines flight. — Photo by AFP
Meanwhile, routine security has already been beefed up.
Due to its geographical location, security at the Peshawar airport is always tricky as the landing route starts from the tribal areas of Bara and Darra Adamkhel which are fragile for security.
Peshawar Airport is surrounded by residential areas, including the slums of Nawai Kalley, Badbher and the rural-urban mix population of Ring Road villages on one side.
A four-five kilometre road running along the landing strip of the airport is not properly guarded. The eastern strip runs along the main Bara road, residential houses and shops.
It provides a complete overview of the airport, including the military and the passenger aircraft parked on the strips, whereas hangers are also visible to the residents there.
Security analysts have already described these areas surrounding the airport as a potential launching pad for attacks especially after the December 2012 assault on the airport.
The runway is toward the northern side, which ends at the main University Road near Tambwan Chowk but the slums of Tehkal starts from the main road which have often been used by the miscreants to fire rockets at the airport in the past.
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