An image of a terminal display screen showing a list of flights cancelled at an airport in the Pakistani city of Karachi has been shared repeatedly on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp alongside a claim that all international arrivals were halted in February 2020 during the novel coronavirus epidemic.
The claim is false; Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that international arrivals were not cancelled in February 2020. The photo in the misleading posts corresponds with another image from the airport which has circulated in reports about flights being suspended at the airport in March 2019.
The photo and claim were published on Facebook here on February 27, 2020.
The post’s caption reads: "All international arrivals flights are cancelled at Karachi airport due Corona virus."
Below is a screenshot of the misleading post:
The novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 94,000 people in 81 countries and territories, has continued to cause widespread travel disruption, as reported here by AFP on March 4, 2020.
An uncropped version of the photo, which includes a man standing in front of the flight information display, also circulated on WhatsApp in Pakistan with a similar claim.
Below is a screenshot of the misleading post on WhatsApp:
The claim is false.
Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority reported that international flights generally arrived without interruption at Jinnah International Airport on February 27, 2020 in the afternoon, the time that the first misleading Facebook post was published.
Below is a screenshot of the agency’s flight information page:
A reverse image search on Google of the photo in the misleading Facebook post also found another photo of a corresponding flight information display that was published on March 1, 2019.
Below is a screenshot of the photo, which was published on Jinnah International Airport’s Facebook page:
Below is a comparison of the photo from the misleading post (L) and the March 2019 photo (R) with corresponding cancelled flights noted in red:
The March 2019 photo was published as part of this Jinnah International Airport post, which showed several photos of empty terminals and suspended operations.
Pakistan had closed its entire airspace on February 27, 2019 after the military said it shot down two Indian Air Force planes in Pakistani airspace, AFP reported here. The suspension order lasted more than five months, causing major disruptions to civil aviation.