Outbound international flights resume today

Updated 30 May 2020

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Both national and foreign airlines would be allowed to operate from all international airports of Pakistan, with the exception of Gwadar and Turbat.  — AFP/File
Both national and foreign airlines would be allowed to operate from all international airports of Pakistan, with the exception of Gwadar and Turbat. — AFP/File

RAWALPINDI: The government has allowed the resumption of international flights only for outbound passengers from Saturday (today) from all international airports of Pakistan except Gwadar and Turbat.

Aviation Division spokesman Abdul Sattar Khokhar said in a press release on Friday the federal government had decided to allow outbound international flights (scheduled, non-scheduled and chartered flights) from 11.59pm on Saturday night.

He said that both national and foreign airlines would be allowed to operate from all international airports of Pakistan, with the exception of Gwadar and Turbat. Outbound flights mean that planes will come empty and take passengers from Pakistan.

He said that Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for outbound international flights had already been issued according to which airlines would also be required to follow SOPs of the destination country. Additionally, disinfection of aircraft will be ensured and no congestion at airports will be allowed.

The government had suspended flight operation of international passenger, chartered and private flights to and from Pakistan on March 21 till April 4, though special and cargo flights were allowed, and then extended the ban up to May 31, due to a surge in the number of coronavirus patients across the country.

On Friday, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM) which said: “The restrictions on inbound passengers operation into Pakistan shall continue. However, special permission is required from government of Pakistan for national [and] foreign carriers and charter operations for flights with inbound passengers on case to case basis.”

“Additionally, diplomatic, special and cargo flights to and from Pakistan shall also be permitted,” the notice to airmen said.

Under the SOPs, the crew of a foreign airliner landing in Pakistan would not be allowed to disembark from the plane.

The move by the government came about one week after Pakistan International Airlines flight PK-8303 crashed in the populated Model Colony, a few kilometres away from Karachi airport’s runway, leaving 97 people dead and two survivals.

Domestic flights operations had already been resumed in Pakistan from five major airports on May 16 as the government has been easing lockdown.

The PCAA has also directed the scheduled and charter airlines operators, ground handling agents and authorised flight permission agents to strictly follow the guideline issued by the authority.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2020