Saidu Sharif Airport
Saidu Sharif Airport (File photo)

Peshawar — Federal minister for Communications Murad Saeed and officials of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) have decided in a meeting to reopen the Saidu Sharif airport to promote tourism in the country.

In a statement, the minister said, “with the assistance of PIA management, Saidu Sharif airport will be reopened,” he added that tourism was one of the promising sectors which earned foreign exchange. Murad Saeed also belongs to the Swat valley.

According to the statement, Murad Saeed said, Swat is one of the most beautiful areas in the country and that making the Saidu Sharif Airport operational will help promote tourism.

Saidu Sharif Ariport was established in 1978 and is situated near the Swat river. The Airport was closed down due to militancy back in 2006-07.

Last week, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan assured that the KP government would extend every possible support for upgrading and extension of the airport.

“This airport would have a key role in the changing scenario. This region is going to be a hub of trade and investment…,” he was quoted as saying.

Government has announced several times to reopen the Saidu Sharif Airport in Swat but still all in vain.

Saidu Sharif Airport’s reopening were announced several times before, but it is still all in vain. The then Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Public Relations Officer Pervez George had announced in July 2012, the airport was renovated and to be operational as soon as PIA provide a flight schedule.

Again in July 2018, the Caretaker Prime Minister Justice (Rtd) Nasirul Mulk had taken notice of the prolonged demand of reopening the “Kanju Airport” for domestic flights.

Authorities say about 1,000 people from Swat travel abroad every day. If Saidu Sharif Airport become operational, most of the travellers would use to take a flight from Saidu Sharif to catch their international flights.

Tourism is considered to be the backbone of the economy in Swat, but deteriorating roads and issues of insecurity had reduced the number of tourists to half.

“Majority of tourists visit Swat from Punjab and Sindh. They have to travel on rough roads. The airport will ease their burden and boost tourism in the region,” Zahir Shah said, who is owner of a travel agency in Swat.

The valley is one of the largest producers of fruit but according to Fruit and Vegetables Association Swat, half of their harvest goes to waste owing to slow transportation.

“As we have no freezing facilities for storing fresh fruit, half of the stocks get wasted. An air cargo service will benefit local farmers and dealers,” Zamin Khan, a fruit dealer, said.

The local fruit dealers have no freezing facilities for storing fresh fruits and more half of their fruit

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