WRITTEN BY CH FAISAL MAHMOOD
We discussed the subject of Civil Aviation for long and more so since the previous Government put a New Civil Aviation Policy on the anvil. Cumulatively, we concerned ourselves with the misfortunes of our national carrier and travelling public, both tracing back to the adoption of non-reciprocal Open Sky Policy.
We go by what Pakistan’s Open Sky Policy has given to Pakistan. This is a legitimate and common ground on which policies are studied for new actions in national interest.
The previous aviation policy had a direct negative impact on PIA and Pakistan’s private sector airlines have not had the space to grow as would be justified from the volume of traffic in and from the country. Travelers didn’t receive any reduction in ticket prices. Carriers earning well here give no economic spinoffs to local communities and are reported also to be generally conducting themselves imperiously. There is no significant employment generated; fewer local staff are employed and given to work more on less remuneration.
For us it is happy moment that the federal cabinet has approved a new Civil Aviation Policy and has confirmed that the government has withdrawn the open-sky policy of previous governments. We also fully support the idea of government to review all previous agreements with all the international airlines.
As per the new policy government has decided that it will reduce taxes on domestic sectors to facilitate both local airlines and the passengers. For the rapid growth of tourism towards northern areas new permits will be issued to helicopter operators. As per the new policy, the government will encourage women to become pilots and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will support them economically. Removal of NOC regime for the foreign tourists to visit Gilgit-Baltistan will definitely give a boost to area tourism and economy.
Last but not the least , the most important factor is the introduction of the e-visa facility, being provided to five countries, including China, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom and people from 58 countries can get a visa on arrival, while 170 other countries will be given e-visa facility
We have been suggesting since long all that incentives and we are happy that the authors of the New Aviation Policy have looked deeper into the industry and its work culture; they have adopted the consultative process which we have been advocating previously, though Holiday was not invited by the officials on any stage of formation of the new policy but still we pray for its success and the success of local tourism. We feel as if the authors have given Pakistan a policy which is worthy of its geographical and human resource positives.