The UAE's civil aviation body has eased restrictions preventing local airlines from flying to Peshawar in Pakistan, following a stabilisation of security in the area. Sharjah's Air Arabia was the first carrier to resume services on January 5, after a five-month hiatus, while Etihad Airways said it was still reviewing the situation. Emirates Airline was unavailable for comment yesterday. Pakistan is one of the leading destinations in the UAE air travel market, alongside India, and is visited by hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis living and working throughout the Emirates.
But services were suspended following a bloody conflict last year between the Pakistani government and militants. The height of the conflict involved attacks on tourist hotels in Peshawar and Islamabad. Attacks have subsided since then and Aws al Khanjari, the director of security and infrastructure at the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority, said the decision to lift the flying ban was taken in consultation with security agencies within the Emirates. "This is subject to the re-evaluation of the security conditions at Peshawar at the end of the month," he said.
Air Arabia, which began diverting its Peshawar flights to Islamabad on August 23, said it resumed flying to the north-western Pakistani city on January 5, after the UAE Civil Aviation Authority informed the carrier that it could resume the flights. The airline's return to Peshawar comes as other carriers push deeper into emerging markets to seek out pockets of growth in an otherwise bleak environment for the global aviation industry.
Several airlines are planning services to Iraq and Afghanistan, the biggest of which is Germany's Lufthansa. The airline is "examining the possibility" of starting new services to Iraq, including connecting Frankfurt and Munich to Baghdad and Erbil, in the northern Kurdish region, as early as this summer, it said yesterday. @Email:email@example.com