Three chartered flights to take 560 US citizens home

Updated April 10, 2020

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US embassy seeks permission to establish facilitation counters in consultation with airport managers. — AFP/File
US embassy seeks permission to establish facilitation counters in consultation with airport managers. — AFP/File

RAWALPINDI: The government has granted permission to the US embassy to arrange three chartered flights to repatriate diplomats and other American nationals from Pakistan.

The three flights — two from Islamabad and one from Karachi — will be operated on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (April 10, 11 and 12).

According to sources, the US embassy had sought permission to establish facilitation counters in consultation with the two airport managers.

The Pakistani authorities had said the permission was subject to the restrictions put in place at airports by the government after the coronavirus outbreak. The guidelines bar disembarkation of flight crew or passengers from the aircraft at both Karachi and Islamabad airports.

As many as 560 diplomats and other American citizens are expected to be repatriated via the three chartered flights. The Boeing 787-9s to be used for the operation belong to Egypt Air.

Sources said two planes would pick 260 Americans from Islamabad International Airport on Friday and Saturday.

The third flight will carry 300 people from Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport on Sunday.

Under the guidelines, the airline will have to ensure that the aircraft are sprayed with a disinfectant and that no person or crew will be allowed to disembark at the airport.

The Inspector General of Punjab, Shoaib Dastigir, has asked the highway authorities to facilitate US citizens trying to reach Islamabad by road from different areas of the province.

The Americans intending to avail the opportunity have been asked to reach the airport at least three hours before the check-in time.

A spokesman for the Aviation Division, Abdul Sattar Khokhar, told Dawn the government had not barred the operation of chartered flights for repatriation of foreigners.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2020