MINGORA: The government reopened Saidu Sharif Airport in Swat for commercial flights as Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) resumed operations after a 17-year absence on Friday.
PIA’s first flight, PK-650, carrying passengers from Islamabad, including Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Federal Minister of Aviation Ghulam Sarwar and Federal Minister for Communications Murad Saeed landed at the airport in the morning.
Elected representatives, high-ranking divisional and district administration officials, and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) officials greet passengers at the airport. Speaking with journalists, the chief minister congratulated the people of the region on restoring commercial flights to Swat after a 17-year hiatus and said the Pakistani government of Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) fulfilled another promise made with the people. He called the initiative very important for the rapid development of the region and said that it would be a milestone in promoting tourism activities as well as providing job opportunities for local people.
He said the government was taking steps to promote tourism in line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision. He emphasized that the provincial government has drawn up a plan that is feasible for the purpose for which various development activities are taking place in the province.
He said the government was not only working on developing existing tourism sites, but was also working on identifying and developing new tourist attractions in the province. He said new tourist attractions, including Jarogo Abshar, would soon be opened to tourists.
Mahmood Khan stated that Swat Motorway Phase-I has been completed and is open to all types of vehicle traffic. He added that significant progress had also been made on the Phase-II project of the Swat Motorway and groundbreaking would take place very soon. He said that the PC-1 and Dir Motorway eligibility would also be completed soon, adding, hopefully Prime Minister Imran Khan will do the groundbreaking of the Chakdara-Chitral-Shandoor road project next month.
Officials said initially two flights a week would be operated for Swat, which would link flights from Karachi and Lahore to Islamabad.