Pakistan’s journey from terrorism to tourism continues as Swat’s Saidu Sharif airport welcomed its first flight on Friday, after a hiatus of 17 years.

A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight, PK-640, with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar and Communications Minister Murad Saeed and tourists on board, reached the scenic valley at around 11am.

The flight took off from the Islamabad International Airport where a cake was cut to celebrate the resumption of the flight operations to the Saidu Sharif airport.

Speaking to the media after arrival at the Saidu Sharif airport, the aviation minister said flights to Swat resumed after a gap of 17 years.

He said PIA’s Swat flight operation was need of the hour. “The flights will not only add to the national airline’s revenue but also promote tourism,” he pointed out.

The Saidu Sharif airport had been non-operational since 2004 after the national flag carrier ceased to operate commercial flights to this destination. The national flag carrier plans to operate two flights from Lahore and Islamabad in a week.

Established in 1978, the airport used to handle two flights a day from Islamabad and Peshawar.