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Pakistan successfully tests calibration aircraft at Balochistan’s Gwadar airport in key step toward its completion

Pakistani and Chinese teams collaborated on Tuesday to successfully test land a calibration aircraft at the New Gwadar International Airport (NGIAP), the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) said, marking a key milestone in the completion of the project expected to be operational by the fourth quarter of this year.

The NGIAP is a is a greenfield airport being built in Balochistan’s port city of Gwadar. The airport, which will handle domestic and international flights, is a joint venture between Pakistan, Oman, and China. The airport is an important part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), an energy and infrastructure corridor between the two countries. CPEC is a flagship of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative through which it has pledged over $60 billion in Pakistan.

“The Flight Calibration and Flight Procedure Design milestone for the New Gwadar International Airport has been successfully achieved today with the successful test landing of the Calibration Aircraft on the newly constructed runway,” the PCAA said in a press statement.

It added that the calibration aircraft was welcomed to the airport with a customary water cannon salute by the PCAA’s Rescue and Fire Fighting Services department.

“This significant accomplishment is the result of the collaborative efforts of both the Chinese and Pakistani Project Teams,” the statement said. “The airport is projected to be completed and operational in the fourth quarter of this year.”

The press release said that apart from the Pakistani and Chinese project teams, the PCAA’s technical directorates and Flight Inspection Unit (FIU) played a crucial role in achieving the milestone within a short timeframe.

“The completion of the New Gwadar International Airport is expected to have a transformative impact on the development of Gwadar and its surrounding areas, as well as improve the lives of the people of Balochistan province and the Makran’s coastal region,” it added.

The airport, which is being built across 4,300 acres of land, is expected to be one of the biggest in Pakistan. According to the PCAA, it will also become the nation’s second airport capable of handling an A380 aircraft.

Chinese investment and financial support for Pakistan since 2013 have been key for the South Asian nation’s struggling economy, including the rolling over of loans so that Islamabad is able to meet external financing needs at a time its foreign reserves are critically low.
In recent months, Pakistan has bolstered efforts to attract foreign investment in key economic sectors such as minerals, agriculture, tourism and others in its bid to stabilize its fragile $350 billion economy. The South Asian country has also sought to enhance bilateral ties with Central Asian states such as Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan as it aims to increase regional trade and improve connectivity.

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