PIA stopped from operating special flights for UK, Canada

Updated 27 Mar, 2020

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National carrier regrets inconvenience but says that passengers' and crew's safety comes first. — AFP/File
National carrier regrets inconvenience but says that passengers' and crew's safety comes first. — AFP/File

RAWALPINDI: The sharp spread of coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom and Canada has forced the government to withdraw the permission it gave to the Pakistan International Air­lines to operate four special flights to the two countries.

PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez said in a statement on Thursday that in view of the recent spike in the number of diagnosed coronavirus cases in the UK and Canada, the government, keeping the health and safety of citizens in consideration, had withdrawn the permission it gave to the PIA to operate its special flights to these countries.

Mr Hafeez said that in view of the government’s decision, the PIA had cancelled planned special flights to London, Manches­ter, Birmingham and Toronto scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

He said the PIA regretted the inconvenience caused to passengers but added that passengers and crew’s safety and health were always the foremost important element for the national flag carrier.

“The changing dynamics may be regretful, but the pandemic is forcing authorities and governments globally to continuously review their strategies to fight this challenge and ensure maximum protection to the people,” he said.

The spokesman asked passengers to contact the PIA call centre for more information and updates.

“Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay indoors,” the spokesman said.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Pakistan International Airlines had decided to operate four special flights on the international route on humanitarian grounds for the people stranded in Pakistan due to closure of international flight operations.

PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez had said that of the four flights, three flights would be operated for the UK and one for Canada.

A PIA flight PK-781 was scheduled to take off from Lahore for Toronto on Friday, March 27, while PK-709 was planned from Islamabad to Manchester on Saturday, March 28.

The flight PK-757 was to be operated from Islamabad to London on Saturday, March 28 while PK 791 was scheduled from Islamabad to Birmingham on Saturday, March 28.

Due to rise in the number of coronavirus cases in Britain and Canada, the government decided to withdraw the relaxation of operating four special flights.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2020