ISLAMABAD: Sound bilateral relations between Islamabad and Abu Dhabi, particularly in the aviation sector, have helped a large number of Pakistani expatriates residing in the UAE, the country’s aviation minister told Arab News on Tuesday.
In talks with the UAE Ambassador to Pakistan, Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salim Al-Zaabi on Monday, Ghulam Sarwar Khan discussed matters of mutual interest, including the promotion of ties between the two countries in the aviation sector.
A statement released after the meeting said that airlines in the UAE had also expressed a desire to start flight operations to new destinations in Pakistan.
Both Khan and Al-Zaabi “discussed bilateral relations between the two countires,” the UAE embassy tweeted on Monday.
According to the Air Service Agreement (ASA) between Pakistan and the Gulf states – which the UAE is a part of – Emirates Airlines, Fly Dubai, Etihad Airways, Air Arabia and Ras Al Khaimah Airways are the designated airlines of the UAE.
“Designated airlines of UAE also want to start flight operation between Dubai and Turbat, Gwadar and Panjgur, with unrestricted 5th freedom traffic rights through any intermediate points and to any beyond points,” excerpts from the statement said.
It added that Fly Dubai has requested for four additional frequencies for Multan which had been vacated by Emirates, adding that the request is being considered by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Pakistan’s national carrier, the PIA.
PIA, Air Blue and Shaheen Air are the designated airlines of Pakistan and according to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the two countries on June 02, 2015 the three are entitled to operate unlimited number of frequencies between specific points in Pakistan and the UAE.
“Currently PIA is having 32 flight operations from Pakistan to Dubai,15 flight operations to Abu Dhabi and 9 flight operations to Sharjah. Similarly, Air Blue is currently having 20 flights to Dubai, 11 flight operations to Abu Dhabi and 18 flight operations to Sharjah,” the statement read.
Currently, Emirates and Air Dubai currently operate 134 flights between Dubai and Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Multan, Sialkot, Faisalabad and Quetta, while Etihad services 39 flight operations between Abu Dhabi and Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Sialkot and Multan; and Air Arabia operates 52 flights between the main cities of Pakistan.
According to official statistics, more than 1.6 million Pakistani expatriates live in the UAE and work in various fields in the public and private sectors.
In July last year, the Airbus A380 – the world’s largest passenger plane operated by Emirates airlines – landed at the Islamabad International Airport.
According to Emirates, the airline and Pakistan have a long-standing relationship that spans over 30 years, when the airline’s first flight flew from Dubai to Karachi on 25 October, 1985.
“Emirates also employs over 5,000 Pakistani nationals as Flight Deck crew, Cabin Crew and in various others positions across the airline,” the airline said in a statement.