Gulf airlines reassess Peshawar flights

Gulf airlines reassess Peshawar flights

By Adam Schreck, Associated Press | Posted - Jun. 25, 2014 at 9:50 a.m.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Middle East's biggest airline, Emirates, said Wednesday it is halting flights to and from the Pakistani city of Peshawar because of security concerns a day after a gunman opened fire at a plane landing at the airport.

Other carriers based in the Persian Gulf, a key gateway for travel to Pakistan, were also reassessing their operations to the city. Peshawar is located on the edge of restless tribal regions where militant groups such as al-Qaida and the Taliban are based. The area has become a frequent target of bombings and shootings over the years.

A gunman fired on a Pakistan International Airlines flight with a submachine gun or an AK-47 as it was coming in to land Tuesday evening about 300 feet (90 meters) off the ground, according to police. One person was killed and two people were wounded in the attack.

Emirates said Wednesday it was suspending flights from its Dubai hub to Peshawar until further notice, and that is was rebooking affected passengers on alternate flights.

Etihad Airways, based nearby in the United Arab Emirates capital of Abu Dhabi, said it canceled a flight due to leave late Tuesday and that it is currently reviewing the security situation in Peshawar. Its next flight to the city is due to depart Thursday.

Qatar Airways confirmed it was canceling a flight due to leave Doha, Qatar, for Peshawar on Wednesday. It gave no reason for the move. Gulf Air, based in the island nation of Bahrain, does not have any flights leaving to Peshawar until Friday but said it is "actively monitoring the security situation" there.

The Gulf Arab states have close political and economic ties to Pakistan, a fellow Muslim country that is a major supplier of migrant labor to the oil-rich region.

The Peshawar attack came comes just two weeks after gunmen laid siege to the country's busiest airport in Karachi, raising concerns about the safety of flights operating into Pakistan.

The Peshawar airport has a military and civilian side. In December 2012 suicide bombers armed with rockets attacked the military side of the airport, killing four civilians.


Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed reporting.


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