RAWALPINDI: Acting on the government’s Wednesday decision to partially resume international flight operations, the Pakistan International Airlines on Thursday announced a schedule for its 10 flights to be operated to the United Kingdom and Canada from April 4 to April 10.
Talking to Dawn, PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez said that two special flights, one PK-789 with 264 passengers on board departed for Toronto from Lahore, while another flight PK-781 carrying 242 passengers departed from Karachi for Toronto on Thursday. These flights were not part of the international flight schedule of 10 flights announced by the national flag carrier.
In addition to scanning of all passengers, disinfection of their luggage was carried out before departures of the flights and top officials of PIA were also present at the airports.
He said the two aircraft would return to Islamabad without carrying any passengers from Canada.
According to sources, out of the 10 flights scheduled by the national flag carrier, four flights of PIA have been allocated for British nationals stranded in Pakistan. Among the passengers are over 500 British nationals who had been asking their government to take them back as soon as possible.
Spread of pandemic has wrought havoc on schedules of all airlines across the globe
One of the four flights will take off from Islamabad for Manchester and the other for London on April 4, while two other flights have been scheduled from Islamabad to Manchester and Birmingham for April 5.
According to media report, “in a video message on Tuesday, British High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr Christian Turner said that British authorities are doing everything to facilitate UK citizens’ return to UK”.
“We are doing everything we can to help support you to return home. That is my and my team’s single priority. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work going on with the government of Pakistan and airlines to deliver that,” he said.
After negotiations between British and Pakistani authorities, four flights were scheduled to take back British nationals stranded in Pakistan due to suspension of international flight operation by the Pakistan government.
According to the flight schedule, on April 7, the PIA will operate three flights — one from Islamabad to London, the second from Islamabad to Manchester and the third from Lahore to Toronto.
On April 8, three flights, one from Islamabad to Manchester, the second flight from Islamabad to Toronto and the third flight from Lahore to London would be operated.
On April 9, a PIA flight is scheduled from Islamabad to Manchester and two other flights — one from Islamabad to London and another other from Islamabad to Manchester have been scheduled to operate.
The schedule for international flights for April 11 is yet to be prepared.
Earlier, the PIA’s special flight PK-853 from Islamabad to Beijing to bring medical supplies returned to Islamabad on Thursday with 52 tons of medical supplies, including masks, testing kits and other essential medical-related goods.
Meanwhile, the first batch of medical supplies from the United Arab Emirates to cope with the coronavirus pandemic in Pakistan arrived in Islamabad on a special plane on Wednesday and more medical shipments are scheduled to arrive soon from the UAE.
According to a press release issued by the UAE embassy, the support of the UAE came on the directives of his highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayad Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2020