Prime Minister Imran Khan performed the groundbreaking of the up-gradation project of Turbat International Airport. The prime minister visited Turbat today as part of his visit to Balochistan. The up-gradation project is described as part of Prime Minister Imran Khan Accelerated Development Plan for the underdeveloped areas of South Balochistan. Turbat International Airport is the second largest airport in Balochistan, constructed over a total area of 680 acres.
Currently, the airport handles around 90 PIA flights a month. Majority of these flights are domestic. PIA operates has operated two international destinations from this airport to Sharjah and Muscat.
Turbat Airport History
The airport started operations in the 1970s when a runway was constructed with an apron to handle small turboprop aircraft. A year later, Pakistan International Airlines launched flights to the airport using Fokker F-27 Friendship aircraft. Due to lack of flights, PIA carried out their own handling at the airport and obtained responsibility of handling the airport operations. The Pakistan State Oil decided to provide aviation fuel to flights handled at the airport and built their own facility in 1994.
History of Aviation in Balochistan
The first regular international air service from Balochistan began in the 1960s between Muscat and Gwadar, operated by the Oman Air Force. This was followed by PIA services with weekly flights between the two destinations until August 2004. The Gwadar-Muscat service was again restored last year, with two regular weekly flights. In November 1995, PIA began Balochistan’s first air service to UAE, with a Boeing 737 flying between Pasni and Sharjah. It was later increased to two flights, connecting the provincial capital Quetta. In October 2001, flights were completely suspended as Fokkers were banned from operating on international routes due to lack of modern radar systems and the use of Pasni Airport by US Air Force launching airstrikes on Afghanistan.
In 2006 Sharjah-based carrier Orbit Aviation showed interest in starting flights to the airport using a 45-seater Antonov An-24 turboprop aircraft on the route. But this never materialised.
The up-gradation project is expected to complete in 18 months, generating employment for the local population. It is expected that passenger traffic will increase due to capacity enhancement of airport terminal allowing operations of narrow-body aircraft type Airbus A320-321 and Boeing 737s. Today Chief Minister of Balochistan Jam Kamal and Chief Minister of Punjab Usman Khan Buzdar with federal minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan were accompanying the prime minister.