RAWALPINDI: Weekly flights to Saudi Arabia have been increased from 33 to 48 after Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) obtained permission from the General Authority for Civil Aviation (Gaca) of Saudi Arabia.

A PIA spokesman said the national flag carrier had obtained permission to operate additional flights with the help of Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Bilal Akbar.

PIA Country Manager (Saudi Arabia) Jan Mohammad Meher met with officials of Gaca-Saudi Arabia and got the formal approval.

Eight flights will go towards Dammam, eight to Madina, nine to Riyadh and 23 to Jeddah, the spokesman said, adding that the reason for operating extra flights was to compensate and facilitate travel of passengers, including workers, that were previously restricted due to Covid-19.

PIA has always been at the forefront of meeting the travel needs of Pakistanis, Mr Malik said, adding that, “If need be, we will get permission for more flights from the Saudi fraternal government”.

He thanked Pakistan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia retired Gen Bilal Akbar for his efforts that led to grant of additional flights to the kingdom.

Furthermore, Fly Dubai has sought permission from Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) to operate flights to and from Skardu.

A PCCA spokesman said it was encouraging to report that an international airline had submitted a request for approval of operations to and from Skardu.

He said the airline intended to start flight operations to Skardu subject to necessary approval of the PCAA and Dubai Civil Aviation.

The PCCA director general and his team had made untiring efforts to upgrade Skardu Airport during a short time, the spokesman said, adding that the start of international operations to Skardu would be a game changer for promotion of tourism in the country.

Meanwhile, Skardu airport’s status has been elevated to that of an international airport from Dec 2, 2021 in order to promote tourism in the country.

This was stated by a spokesperson for the PCAA in a tweet.

He added that the operations will be under visual flight rules (VFR) only.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2021

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