RAWALPINDI: Pakistan International Airlines operated two more special flights to bring Pakistani nationals and foreigners stranded in Afghanistan to Pakistan on Friday. The PIA’s Chief Executive Officer, Arshad Malik, left with the first flight to encourage the crew.
The PIA CEO will hold meetings with Afghan Civil Aviation and Nato officials at Kabul airport and review administrative matters and operation with Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan Mansoor Khan.
A spokesman for PIA said: “Two more special PIA flights left for Kabul to bring back Pakistanis and foreigners stranded in Kabul to Pakistan.”
Airbus 320 and Boeing 777 were used in the two flights.
CEO leaves for Afghan capital to discuss matters with Afghan Civil Aviation, Nato officials
According to the PIA spokesman, Minister for Aviation Sarwar Khan said the situation was being reviewed for operating more flights to other cities of Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, a special flight of PIA — which was stuck at the Kabul airport on Wednesday — arrived at Islamabad International Airport on Thursday morning with Pakistanis, staff of foreign diplomatic missions and people from international organisations onboard.
The national flag carrier’s Boeing 777 flight PK-6249 — the first international flight since the formation of new government in Afghanistan — could not fly back to Islamabad on Wednesday night to repatriate Pakistanis and staff of foreign diplomatic missions stranded in Kabul due to security situation.
The PIA spokesman said: “This was the first international flight since the new government was formed in Afghanistan by the Taliban.”
He said the PIA’s special flight carrying passengers from Kabul returned to Pakistan safely and landed at Islamabad International Airport at 7am on Thursday.
The spokesman said that information regarding delayed return of the special flight was kept secret due to security reasons on Wednesday.
“The PIA administration had been in constant touch with the new Afghan government, civil aviation and Nato officials for the return flight,” the spokesman said, adding that CEO Arshad Malik was overseeing the operation directly from PIA’s exchange room.
PIA had been in contact with the new Afghan administration staff and on-site security agencies, the spokesman said, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan and other senior government officials were also kept informed about the arrival of the plane.
He said that Pakistanis, staff of foreign diplomatic missions and people from major international organisations were rescued during the special flight as passengers were facilitated by PIA’s ground staff in Kabul.
A day after the Taliban took control of Kabul, the flight operation to Kabul was suspended by PIA.
PIA’s special flight PK-6249 was the first flight to land at the Kabul airport after temporary suspension of international flights.
One of the two special flights of the national flag carrier, which departed for Kabul to evacuate Pakistanis, foreigners and Afghans, arrived in Islamabad on Friday evening, while the second flight is likely to reach Islamabad in the night.
Mansoor Ahmad Khan, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, said in a tweet: “Pakistan embassy in Kabul is arranging evacuation of 350 foreign nationals, Pakistanis & Afghans on two special flights by PIA. The Embassy has made arrangements in its own compound.”
Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2021