RAWALPINDI: The Government of Iraq has revoked the permission granted to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to operate special flights to Najaf and Baghdad for people intending to observe Arbaeen.
The special permission was revoked due to the spread of Covid-19.
A PIA spokesman said the schedule of the special flight operation to Najaf and Baghdad had been finalised from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.
He said PIA had planned to operate the flights from Sept 27 till Oct 5, adding the special discounted fares had been introduced for intending pilgrims.
He said the decision was made by the Iraqi government to stop the rush of people in Najaf and Karbala and to maintain social distance.
In this regard, special flights of PIA which were scheduled to start from September 27 are being postponed, he said.
All the passengers who had made a reservation would be able to receive a refund without deduction. PIA Chief Executive Officer retired Air Marshal Arshad Malik had held meetings with the ambassador of Iraq to Pakistan to finalise the commencement of the special flights.
Meanwhile, PIA, which had sought permission to operate 28 special flights to Saudi Arabia, has been allowed to operate only 13 flights from September 21 to Sept 30.
Since the PIA had already been granted permission to operate 23 flights to the kingdom on September 15, its administration had sought permission to operate more flights due to the increasing number of passengers intending to travel to Saudi Arabia.
A PIA spokesman said the airlines will be able to airlift only 3,000 passengers from Pakistan through the 13 special flights while the number of intending passengers was much more.
Published in Dawn, September 22nd, 2020