CHITRAL: The people associated with tourism sector have demanded the resumption of Pakistan International Airlines flights to Chitral from Peshawar and Islamabad for attracting tourists to the district.

They regretted that suspension of PIA flights for last six years had adversely affected the tourism sector as the tourists avoided the tedious and long road journey to the area.

They said during 2023, almost no flight was operated on the Islamabad-Chitral route, while the Peshawar-Chitral route had already been closed down.

Shahzada Sirajul Mulk, the founding president of Chitral Association for Mountain Areas Tourism (CAMAT), said PIA used to operate three flights from Peshawar daily when the district remained cut off from rest of the country for five months of the extended winter season.

He asserted that tourism in a mountainous and remote area (like Chitral) couldn’t flourish without flights, which was amply proved by the drastic drop in the number of tourists visiting Chitral after the suspension of PIA flights.

He said Chitral airport was fully functional as the personnel of Civil Aviation Authority and Airport Security Force were posted here as usual as per the required strength. He added the PIA office in the city was also working.

Comparing Chitral with Gilgit-Baltistan in tourism, he said tourists opted for the latter due to availability of flights to Gilgit city and Skardu.

Mr Mulk said private airlines could also be tempted to start flights on daily basis due to the multitude of passengers and cargo luggage.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2024

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