KARACHI: Gilgit airport remains shut for all flights on Sunday after the airport’s only air traffic controller was suspended by the district administration.
Earlier on Saturday, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had issued a notification about the suspension of all flight operations in lieu of air traffic controller Yasir Iqbal being briefly detained.
According to media reports, Yasir was arrested by two men who were in civil clothes on the orders of the deputy commissioner of Gilgit following an argument between the CAA and district administration over the chopping of trees close to the runway. He was released after a few hours.
Local media sources report that the trees were taken down after pilots repeatedly complained of difficulties in landing and taking off, stating that the thick foliage around the runway was a risk to safety standards. Authorities claim that the flights to and from the airport now carry eight to 10 fewer passengers than normal as the weight could possibly slow down take off and cause a crash.
Furthermore, the district administration has demanded the aviation authority to compensate for the chopped trees.
Pakistan Air Traffic Controller Guild (PATCG) President Javed Hanif claimed that Yasir was ‘mistreated’ during the time that he was kept in detention and that the CAA spokesperson had falsely stated that the air traffic controller had ‘called in sick’.
Meanwhile, the CAA continues to hold the district administration accountable for chopping down trees for which the CAA keeps paying penalties.
CAA Director General Hassan Baig while speaking to a local news channel said, “The matter regarding compensation for the chopped trees would be resolved soon.”