RAWALPINDI: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has launched regular service to Iraq, as the first scheduled flight of the national carrier, which had departed for Najaf on Oct 30, returned to Karachi on Sunday morning.
PIA had been previously operating special flights to Najaf.
When the first scheduled flight (PK-219) of the national carrier with Iraqi Ambassador Hamid Abbas Lufta and PIA CEO Arshad Malik among 91 passengers aboard landed at Najaf, it was given a water cannon salute by crash tenders with powerful cannons on taxiway at the airport.
Najaf Governor Luay Yasry, Pakistani Ambassador Ahmed Amjad Ali, the head of Iraqi civil aviation and religious leaders welcomed the passengers at the airport.
On the occasion, PIA CEO Malik said he brought a message of love and peace from Pakistan. Iraq was an important destination for Pakistani Muslims, he said.
Najaf Governor Luay Yasry said they would leave no stone unturned in serving PIA and Pakistani pilgrims. He said efforts were being made to simplify the visa system so that maximum number of people intending to visit Najaf could benefit.
Ambassador Ahmed Amjad Ali said PIA’s scheduled flights would further strengthen ties between the two countries. “Now, after Najaf, efforts will be made to start the PIA flights to Baghdad as soon as possible,” he added.
After the reception, the delegation visited Hazrat Ali’s shrine and Kufa mosque.
Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2021