PIA - Pakistan International Airlines (PK, Islamabad Quaid-e-Azam Int'l) has suspended its flights between Islamabad Quaid-e-Azam Int'l and Saidu Sharif, due to lack of demand, an airline spokesman has confirmed.

This comes barely four months after the flag carrier resumed flights to Saidu Sharif, on March 26, following an absence of 17 years. It had announced twice-weekly flights from Lahore Int'l and Islamabad respectively, but all flights to Saidu Sharif are now blocked on the airline’s website, ch-aviation found.

The airport is situated near the Swat River and between the villages of Dherai and Kanju in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) in the northwestern region of the country along the Afghanistan–Pakistan border. Saidu Sharif has an asphalt runway, 05/23, measuring 1,750 metres.

PIA spokesperson Abdullah H Khan said the airline's decision to suspend flights was not influenced by security reasons.

"Despite operating for many months, the flight loads were not picking up as people and tour operators are preferring the newly-built road infrastructure which now takes 2.5 hours from Islamabad. Hence PIA has decided to suspend the flight and re-evaluate the connections by perhaps connecting it to southern parts of the country to make it more attractive to people," he explained in an email to ch-aviation.

The airport was made operational again on the request of PIA after it had been closed to commercial flights since 2004 due to security reasons. Taliban militants had taken over Swat from 2007 to 2009, destroying tourism to the region, but army operations to clear out militant safe havens and improved security in recent years have allowed tourism to re-emerge on the Hindu Kush mountain range.

Built in 1978, the airport used to receive daily flights from Peshawar and Islamabad before it was shut down during violent clashes between Pakistan's armed forces and Taliban militants in late 2007 over control of the region.