Airlines start checking vaccination certificates of passengers

Published August 2, 2021
In this photograph taken on April 26, 2018, airport officials take part in a test rehearsal at the new Islamabad International Airport ahead of its official opening. —AFP/File
In this photograph taken on April 26, 2018, airport officials take part in a test rehearsal at the new Islamabad International Airport ahead of its official opening. —AFP/File

RAWALPINDI: The airlines staff, including that of the national flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), started checking vaccination certificates of passengers on all flights from Sunday before boarding in the light of guidelines of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC).

The NCOC has made the vaccine certificate mandatory for air travel, with effect from August 1, as part of the government’s steps to curb the spread of Covid-19. A total of eight air travellers not having the immunisation certificate were stopped from boarding flights at all airports across the country on the first day of the travel ban on unvaccinated people.

Earlier, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had issued a notification which said: “No Pakistani passenger of 18 years of age and above will be allowed to undertake domestic air travel within Pakistan without proof of Covid-19 vaccination.”

It said the condition would not apply to international passengers arriving or departing from Pakistan and connecting domestic flights of such passengers within 72 hours of arrival in/departure from Pakistan.

In addition, partially vaccinated individuals holding proof of vaccination verifiable through SMS from 1166 and foreign nationals will be exempted from this stipulation.

The Pakistani nationals having documentary proof of vaccination administered abroad, patients clinically advised against vaccination owing to risk factors and those holding a doctor’s certificate to this effect will also be exempted.

A spokesman for the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Abdullah Hafeez, said the national flag carrier started verification of vaccination certificates of passengers prior to the boarding process on all flights from Sunday.

He said the PIA had been informing all passengers about the standard operating procedures and the NCOC’s guidelines through its call centres.

The spokesman confirmed that a total of eight passengers were stopped from boarding flights for failing to produce vaccination certificates. Of the eight, four were PIA passengers.

Meanwhile, the PIA and Shifa International Hospital (SIH), Islamabad, inked a Memorandum of Understanding as part of collaboration on the ‘Safe Skies’ Initiatives undertaken by both the organisations for wellness of the passengers during their air travel.

A PIA press release said on Sunday that the MOU was signed by PIA’s Chief Supply Officer Air Commodore Jibran Saleem Butt and SIH Chief Medical Officer Dr Zeeshan Bin Ishtiaque at the airlines offices in Islamabad.

Under this initiative, both will collaborate with each other to develop products for the health and wellness of the PIA customers. As a first step, Shifa International Hospitals will provide sanitisation kits for all passengers on the PIA flights.

PIA Chief Executive Officer Air Marshal Arshad Malik was also present on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, August 2nd, 2021

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