ISLAMABAD: Air Sial A320 being greeted with a water cannon salute upon its arrival at Jinnah International Airport on Sunday. The private airline is likely to start domestic flight operation next month.—Dawn
ISLAMABAD: Air Sial A320 being greeted with a water cannon salute upon its arrival at Jinnah International Airport on Sunday. The private airline is likely to start domestic flight operation next month.—Dawn

RAWALPINDI: Three Airbus A320-200s of Air Sial — the airline launched by Sialkot’s business community — arrived at the Jinnah International Airport, Karachi, from Phoenix, Arizona, early on Sunday morning via Egypt. From Karachi the aircraft were flown to their base in Sialkot where they landed at about 9.30pm.

Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to inaugurate the private airline on Dec 9. However, the airline’s flight operations are expected to begin later.

Air Sial, a licensed airline, is the brainchild of members of the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry who launched the project after the success of their earlier initiative, the Sialkot International Airport Ltd.

Air Sial’s vice chairman Fazal Jilani told Dawn by telephone that soon after its inauguration by the prime minister the airline would start selling its tickets.

He said two more aircraft would arrive soon in Sialkot, one of them on Dec 3, to join the new airline’s fleet.

Although the Airbus A320-200s, having a capacity of 180 passengers, are about 16 years old, they are in great shape and have been fitted with new seats, he said.

“Our pilots are well-trained and the engineering department is following international standards,” Mr Jilani said. “Safety is our top priority.”

Muhammad Ashraf Malik, a former president of the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said by telephone that Air Sial planned to start its operations with flights to or from Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Sialkot.

The privately owned airline was granted permission to run its operations by the Aviation Division in 2017. It also plans to launch flights to foreign destinations.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2020

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