PIA’s first international flight to GB connects Dubai to scenic Skardu

A historic milestone was achieved in the aviation industry of Pakistan as a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight successfully touched down at Skardu airport on Aug. 14, marking the airport’s inaugural international flight connecting Dubai to Skardu.

PIA’s flight PK234 bearing 79 passengers departed from Dubai at 4:15 am local time and landed at Skardu International Airport at 8:33 am Pakistan time.

“The launch of this new flight route will make Skardu more accessible to international travelers, and will help to promote tourism in this beautiful region,” said the statement issued by the PIA.

Operating weekly, the Dubai-Skardu flight spans around four and a half hours. PIA has introduced a special introductory fare for this route.

Initial international flight operations at Skardu airport will be governed by Visual Flight Rules (VFR), applicable during clear weather conditions.

The elevation of Skardu Airport to international status by former Prime Minister Imran Khan in December 2021 set the stage for this milestone, which was made possible by the recent inauguration of a refueling facility by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA).

First International Flight lands at Skardu

“PIA’s first international flight with 80 passengers from Dubai to Skardu landed at 8:45 am,” PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez Khan told Arab News.

Anticipating a tourism upswing in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), a PIA spokesperson highlighted that PIA’s weekly Dubai-Skardu flights would significantly contribute to this endeavor, lauding the achievement as a remarkable leap forward in enhancing air travel and accessibility to the region.

Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, Pakistan’s ambassador to the UAE, hailed the flight as a substantial stride towards strengthening international ties and promoting tourism.

At an elevation of 7,500 feet above sea level, Skardu airport stands as the sole northern Pakistani airport capable of accommodating larger aircraft, bridging a gap left by the shorter runways of Gilgit and Chitral airports.

Grand welcome in Gilgit Baltistan

In an impressive ceremony at Skardu Airport, PIA CEO Air Vice Marshal Amir Hayat, alongside civil aviation officials and political figures, welcomed the passengers.

Traditional caps and gifts from Gilgit-Baltistan were given out, and a water cannon salute greeted the arriving aircraft. To commemorate Independence Day, the captain raised the national flag from the cockpit window.

 Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Secretary Mohyuddin Ahmed Wani expressed excitement, deeming the flight a historic event.

“History in the making!” he said in a tweet, “First international flight to Skardu landing safely is indeed a historic moment.”

Skardu opens to the World

PIA shared joyful news on social media, showcasing warm passenger welcomes. Their tweet highlighted the dramatic scene of the historic flight’s arrival, celebrated with a water cannon salute and the national flag display.

“Skardu is now open to the world!” The tweet added.

This first international flight to Skardu signified enhanced travel options and global connections, a step forward for tourism and regional connectivity.

PIA’s Dubai-Skardu flights are poised to boost tourism in northern Pakistan, shortening travel time for tourists.

Notably, on July 20, a record-breaking twelve Airbus A-320 flights transited through Skardu, marking the highest single-day tally at the airport.

Zakhia Irfan
Zakhia is a dedicated journalist who loves to read and travel. She covers all aspects of aviation and travel news for Islamabad Scene.

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