PIA unveils special flight operation for people intending to attend Arbaeen in Iraq

Updated 16 Sep 2020

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The PIA will operate flights from Sept 27 till Oct 5. — AFP/File
The PIA will operate flights from Sept 27 till Oct 5. — AFP/File

KARACHI: Faced with suspension of flights to many profitable destinations, the Pakistan Interna­tional Airlines is attempting to exp­lore new options and on Tuesday it announced a special flight operation for the people intending to observe Arbaeen in Iraq.

A spokesperson for the national flag carrier said that the schedule of the special flight operation to Naj­af and Baghdad had been finali­sed and passengers can travel from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

The PIA will operate flights from Sept 27 till Oct 5, he said, adding that special discounted fares had been introduced for intending pilgrims.

PIA’s Chief Executive Officer retired Air Marshal Arshad Malik had held meetings with Iraq’s ambassador to Pakistan to finalise the commencement of special flights between the two countries.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Mr Malik while sharing his views on the finalisation of the flight schedule said that the PIA had always provided air services to the people and “we feel privileged to serve zaireen”.

He directed PIA officials to provide best services to passengers.

Like all other international carriers, the PIA also suffered huge losses due to suspension of flights in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. And by the time these countries resumed their normal flight operations, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) had slapped a ban on the national carrier to operate in EU states after Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan made disclosure about “dubious” licences of 262 Pakistani pilots.

Later, the United Kingdom withdrew the PIA’s permit to operate from three of its airports in Birm­ingham, London and Manchester. However, the aviation minister had claimed that the PIA was currently managing its European flight operations through “court sharing” arrangements, under which PIA flies passengers to Istanbul and subsequently they travel to Europe and London. Flight operations to London are being carried out through a Portuguese airliner, he had said.

Many international carriers have been taking advantage of the situation by expanding their flight operations to Pakistan to boost their revenues.

The PIA is offering discounted tickets to both its domestic and international passengers to minimise its losses.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2020