After a hiatus of 17 long years, Saidu Sharif Airport in the Swat Valley had its first flight landing on Friday. The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight landed at the airport much to the relief of the people of valley.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan said on Friday that resumption of flight operations to Saidu Sharif Airport after 17 years gap was a remarkable achievement for the government, especially as it was a long awaited desire of the people of Swat valley. He said this while addressing the elderly people of Swat after the inaugural flight made its landing.
Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Minister for Communications Murad Saeed, PIA’s chief executive officer Arshad Malik, MNA Saleemur Rehman and MPAs from Swat were present on the momentous occasion.
Back in 1994 the airport was seized by Tehreek Nifaz Shariat-i-Muhammadi. But Pakistan’s security forces soon took tye airport back after clash with the banned organization. In 2002, after the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) suspended its flight operations to the airport, it was closed down temporarily. Furthermore, insurgency during 2006-2009 period made the airport unfit for operations. In 2014, after much public demand the government decided to resume operations to the airport in Swat. Soon after a test flight was conducted to the airport, but due to undisclosed reasons the airport could not receive green signal for operations.
Chief Minister said that resuming operations at the airport would prove to be beneficial to tourism in Malakand division, and would also attract job opportunities. He said, “Promotion of tourism is one of the top priorities of the PTI government and vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan.”
Chief Minister Mahmood Khan further said that the Saidu Sharif airport’s runway would receive makeover that would enable extended faciliites at the airport. “An Austrian investor has selected Swat to establish a skiing village of hundreds of houses that will promote tourism and international skiing sports here.”