Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) had a proud moment on Sunday when it started its direct passenger flights` operation between Europe and Sialkot.

Federal Minister for Aviation Mohammadmian Soomro launched the PIA flight service to Europe from the Sialkot International Airport.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Usman Dar, SIAL chairman Nadeem Anwar Qureshi, Punjab Minister for Special Education Chaudhry Muhammad Ikhlag and other dignitaries accorded a

warm welcome to the passengers of the PIA flight (PK-720) from Paris via Barcelona Spain to Sialkot. They presented bouquets to the passengers while the ground staff presented the water salute to the PIA aircraft.

Both PIA and SIAL jointly hosted the ceremony where officials said that initially the PIA would run direct passenger flight between Paris and Sialkot once a week.

Later, they said, the number of flights to other European countries would be increased.

The aviation minister said it was a momentous occasion that the Sialkot airport had launched the PIA operations to Europe. He said the government was making efforts to ensure the provision of facilities to the passengers at all the airports in the country. The Sialkot exporters, he said, had been playing a pivotal role in strengthening the national economy through US $ 2 billion annual foreign exchange.

SIAL chairman Nadeem Anwar Qureshi told the participants that the success of the airport had been building the trust and confidence of the foreign airlines. He said after the successful flight operation of Saudi Gulf Airline, Saudi Arabia was mulling launch of the operation of Saudi Airlines to Sialkot.

He said 55 international passenger flights take off to foreign destinations from Sialkot in a week and the number of these flights would increase soon.

SIAL Business Development Committee chairman Mian Naeem Javaid said the mega project of the Sialkot International Airport undertaken by local businessmen on a self-help basis was now proving a milestone towards helping the national economy.

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