RAWALPINDI: The status of Skar­du Airport has been upgraded and it will start operating as an international airport from Thursday (today).

A spokesman for the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) said in a tweet: “In line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision master plan to promote tourism across the country, Skardu Airport starts operating as an international airport from December 2, 2021. Initially the operations will be under visual flight rules (VFR) only.”

Under the VFR, an aircraft is intended to operate in visual meteorological conditions (i.e. nice and clear weather). Clouds, heavy precipitation, low visibility, and other adverse weather conditions should be avoided under the VFR.

PIA’s first flight lands at Madina airport after Saudi Arabia lifts Covid-related restrictions

Meanwhile, Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) first flight with 121 passengers onboard landed at Madina International Airport on Wednesday after Saudi Arabia announced lifting of Covid-related restrictions on Pakistan and five other countries from December 1. Five more flights carrying a total of 1,400 passengers to Saudi Arabia will be operated on Thursday.

PIA announced its schedule to operate 35 flights weekly to Saudi Arabia after the lifting of restrictions.

The Saudi authorities had on November 25 decided to withdraw the ban on flights from six countries — Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Egypt, Brazil and Vietnam — and announced that passengers from these countries would no longer be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine in a third country.

A spokesman for PIA said that following the easing of sanctions, PIA’s flight operations for Saudi Arabia had now become fully operational as the first flight from Multan with 121 passengers onboard landed at Madina International Airport on Wednesday. He said PIA would operate a total of 33 flights to Saudi Arabia this week and the number would be increased to 48 flights next week. PIA flights will be operated from Lahore to Jeddah and Dammam, Islamabad to Jeddah and Riyadh and Karachi to Madina.

The spokesman said 1,130 passengers would on Friday take flights to Dammam, Riyadh and Jeddah.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2021

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