LAHORE - Federal Railways and Aviation Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique on Saturday said that the country’s aviation industry would be improved through collective efforts as there were some loopholes in the aviation related policy. Addressing the inaugural ceremony of upgraded runway of Lahore Airport, he said that sincere efforts were being made to remove lapses in the aviation policy. He said that private airlines would also be given opportunities to work besides enhancing the quality and work frequency of Pakistan International Airline. The minister said that he noticed that departments working under the Ministry of Civil Aviation had no coordination with each other. Therefore, efforts were being made to develop better working environment in all the departments for uplift of the aviation industry, he added. Rafique lauded the secretary Civil Aviation and director generals for playing their role to develop harmony among different departments. He urged the employees to discharge their duties efficiently to justify their demands, adding that those showing extraordinary performance would be rewarded. He said that if any brotherly country wanted to use the Pakistan’s airspace, that country would have to make an agreement with it. In that case, the PIA would be its partner and that country would have to give due share to the PIA. He said that the PIA would welcome whosoever would offer good joint ventures to it. He emphasised that the Civil Aviation Authority and the PIA should be supportive to each other. The aviation minister said that Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore was the most earning airport in the country. He added that upgradation work of the runway of Karachi Airport would be started this year. “Gilgit, Chitral and Skardu airports will also be modernised. Sukkur and Dera Ismail Khan airports will be given the status of international airports. I had been told that the alternative of Walton Airport, which is being constructed in Muridke, will become operational by January 2023,” he said. The minister went on to say that Gwadar’s new airport would become fully operational by September next year while work on Quetta and Faisalabad airports was underway and their runways would be completed this year. He said that the funds lying with the business district authority should be transferred to the Civil Aviation Authority. There were multiple issues related to the Civil Aviation property, located near the Islamabad Airport, and practical steps were being taken to settle these issues. He said that with the increase in the immigration counters, more FIA and Customs staff would be required, and the relevant departments were being apprised of the situation.

Says runway of Karachi airport will also be upgraded, Gwadar airport to be operational by Sept 2023

Rafique said that a request would be made to FIA DG to facilitate people at immigration counters at Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore airports. He said that measures were also being taken to facilitate the Airport Security Force personnel as well.

Regarding the PIA, the minister said that its turnaround was possible only through hard work, dedicated efforts and with continuity of policies. Appointments made on merit would definitely yield positive results, he added.

The aviation minister hoped that the quality of PIA food would be improved and still there was a room for further improvement. He said that funds had been arranged to change seats in five A320 air buses. He said that initially two Boeing 777 planes would be revamped. He said that four A320 airbuses would be added to the PIA fleet while two planes had already arrived in Pakistan. The addition would improve the PIA operations, he hoped.

One 777 Boeing airplane had been made operational and its test flight would start within a day or two, besides another airbus which would be made functional soon, as funds had been arranged for it. He said, “The PIA would try to get A320 wide-body aircraft and prefer to bring in the best aircraft. Efforts are being made to revive direct flights to the UK and America, and to reopen the closed routes as the step would help improve the financial condition of the PIA.”

Civil Aviation Authority DG Khaqan Murtaza gave a welcome address while NESPAK MD Tahir Masood gave presentation on expansion of the Lahore Airport.