Kashmir Air: AJK gets its first-ever airline

In a move aimed at boosting tourism in the region, the autonomous Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) region on Tuesday inaugurated its first-ever airline.

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Essentially flying helicopters instead of jet planes in a region which lacks commercial landing strips, the vertical landing and take off ability of helicopters will make it easy for aircraft to ferry people between destinations.

The Kashmir Air service was inaugurated by President Dr Arif Alvi at Bagh in AJK on Tuesday. AJK Prime Minister Sardar Tanveer Ilyas, was also present on the occasion.

He said that AJK was blessed with immense natural beauty and potential for tourism.

He encouraged other private sector players to step forward and develop AJK’s tourism sector to help realize its true potential.

Kashmir Air is a privately owned company which will start commercial helicopter flights to and from AJK and to other northern areas of Pakistan.

President Alvi also urged the government of AJK to promote sustainable and environment-friendly tourism, besides evolving tourism-friendly policies for facilitating private-sector investment.

He said that tourism had become the mainstay of many developing economies in the world and was considered a prime source for earning foreign exchange, creating jobs, stimulating growth, and reducing economic disparities.

Alvi further called for adopting an integrated approach towards tourism planning in AJK, adding that a careful assessment of the economic, social, and environmental impacts of tourism on the region should be conducted, besides establishing linkages between stakeholders, businesses, resources and tourism activities.

The President said that Pakistan possesses enormous human resources in the form of youth and women, which, with relevant skills, and training could become an asset to the national economy in the future.

He urged the need to provide technical and vocational skills and training to AJK’s youth in the tourism and hospitality sector to provide gainful employment to youth, particularly women, in their own region.

He said that the adoption of IT tools and artificial intelligence could help in the development and promotion of the tourism sector in AJK to market AJK’s tourism assets as well as provide information, online booking facilities and tourism packages to domestic and foreign tourists. He said that the IT sector was akin to a “fast train”, that could help Pakistan achieve accelerated economic growth with little investment as compared to traditional brick-and-mortar dependent infrastructure development.

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