Gilgit - Baltistan

The dream of getting an “all-weather” airport in Gilgit and Skardu shattered?

Naeem Ullah
Photos: Mon Digital

Gilgit, May 31: CM Mehdi Shah has reported said in Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly the other day that the Gilgit and Skardu Airport cannot be made “all-weather” because of some mysterious reason. He said that the Civil Aviation Authority has refused to make required changes in the airport’s structure to make it capable of receiving larger planes in all seasons of the year.

The reported “revelation” by the Chief Minister has baffled the people of Gilgit-Baltistan who have, thus far, been assured by the same politicians about the “good news” that a better and modern airport is to be constructed in the region. It appears that all the promises and assurances were fake, as the case is with “dream sellers” who have nothing in reality to offer to the public.

The people of GB suffer every year because of unstable weather, as the planes generally remain non-operational due to blockade of the narrow and dangerous valleys. The small ATR Turbo Planes operated by the PIA are unreliable and too small to cater to the needs of the increasing population of  the region.

The situation demands for a thorough and systemic analysis of the short and long-term needs and possibilities of air-voyage for the people, who travel in large numbers every day, for medical treatment, education, business or other activities.

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  1. That ignorant doesn’t know what does red zone means, and those MoD idiots should also know that Leh Airport in Ladakh serves to over 15 flights every week. Leh Airport is as much in same situation (98%) as Skardu Airport is. The number of flights per week is amazingly high, and private airlines are encouraged to fly to such destinations in India because like ours tourism is BLOOD LINE for them. On the other hand, in Pakistan, they don’t only let private airlines fly rather when they don’t have enough aircrafts, they would cancel a Gilgit or Skardu bound flight making weather an excuse. Since, federal government has already started PROHIBITING those few foreigners who still come to enjoy beauty of Gilgit-Baltistan by not issuing visas despite all that bad media.
    I wonder, whether, Federal, Government has any special policies towards GBians to make an already worst situation even bad in terms of economic means which already suffers right after 9/11. India, Nepal, Bhutan, Central Asian States, even Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq are pumping millions to increase tourism, but unlike them, Pakistan scares away those who come to help sustain our economy. Below you will find some statistics about the Leh Airport and flights with pictures.

    Rencently I uploaded statistics of flights to Leh Airport with pictures, please click here to read.

  2. Promise of modifying the Gilgit airport (ICAO:OPGT) to make it all weather was a political statement right from the beginning. Due to its unusual location and structure, right in the middle of mountainous terrain, it would require an insanely heavy replacement cost to build/ modify the present shape of the runway. As a matter of common sense, ILS facility needs at least few nautical miles so that the aircraft could align itself with the runway but again, because of awkward mountains surrounding the runway, aforementioned airport cannot have ILS facility as well. However, a whole new airport, is still possible either in the vicinity of Chilas or in suburbs of Gilgit.

  3. We can extend the existing run way by half or one kilometer, the only thing is to have a good will and intentions.

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