Emirates suspends flights from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka till July 15

Published July 4, 2021
Emirates said that people who had already booked their tickets could keep them for a future flight or rebook to another date. — AFP/File
Emirates said that people who had already booked their tickets could keep them for a future flight or rebook to another date. — AFP/File

Emirates has suspended flights from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka till July 15 in accordance with the directives of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government, the airline said in a statement on Saturday.

It also said that passengers who have connected through the three countries in the last 14 days would not be allowed to travel with the airline from any point to the UAE.

"UAE Nationals, holders of UAE Golden Visas and members of diplomatic missions who comply with updated Covid‑19 protocols are exempt and may be accepted for travel," the statement said.

Emirates said that people who had already booked their tickets could keep them for a future flight or rebook to another date.

Last month, the UAE had extended a ban on inbound flights from 14 countries including Pakistan till July 21.

The UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) had said in a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) that flights from 14 countries, including Pakistan, would remain suspended until July 21, 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, it said cargo flights as well as business and charter flights would be exempted from the suspension.

Emirates is one of the airlines that have recently been issued a warning by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) over inconvenience caused to passengers by the "sudden cancellation of flights".

Presuming ease of travel restrictions by the authorities, some airlines had scheduled extra flights to Pakistan and made bookings as well but then cancelled those flights after the Nat­ional Command and Opera­tion Centre (NCOC) maintained travel curbs considering the rise in Covid cases in some areas.

The CAA said it had taken "serious notice" against Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways and Fly Dubai for "causing inconvenience to passengers by flight cancellations in recent weeks".

A day earlier, the CAA directed the airlines to accommodate the passengers on the earliest possible flights of the same or any other airline to Pakistan besides providing hotel accommodation and payment of damages to passengers.

The CAA also cautioned those airlines that it would be constrained to initiate regulatory action against them, which may include financial penalty, cancellation of one or more flights and revocation of schedule authorisation.

Repatriation flights

Meanwhile, Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan shared on Sunday that the CAA and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) had decided to operate 18 flights to Gulf countries, including the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain to repatriate stranded Pakistani citizens.

For the UAE, 10 flights will operate between July 5 and 10 to bring back 3,394 Pakistanis from Dubai and Sharjah. Six flights will operate between July 6 and 18 to bring back 2,016 people from Doha and two flights will operate between July 9 and 11 to bring back 772 Pakistanis from Bahrain, Khan said.

"Besides this, we have allocated 2,000 special seats for UAE and [stranded Pakistanis] will be brought back to the country before Eid," he added.

The minister said that PIA had upgraded its Airbus A320 planes for the purpose while four BBB7 planes had also been designated.

"Booking has been started and God willing, flight operation will start from UAE tomorrow and in four days, all the stranded Pakistanis in different Gulf states will be brought back safely in an honourable manner."

Khan said the airlines, including Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Fly Dubai had been issued show-cause notices.

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