RAWALPINDI: The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has announced a plan to start Haj flights from eight main cities of the country to Saudi Arabian destinations, including Jeddah and Madina, from May 31 to August 13.

The PIA management gave a briefing to Aviation Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique on the airline’s operations, including promotion of tourism.

PIA spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez Khan said on Monday that the airline’s management gave a briefing to the aviation minister on its operations.

He said the briefing covered Haj operations, promotion of tourism, flights to new destinations and a plan for expansion of the airline’s fleet. The minister was informed about the airline’s Haj operation commencing from May 31.

Minister briefed on operation, plan for promotion of tourism

He said PIA will operate Haj flights from eight major cities: Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Multan, Peshawar and Quetta to Jeddah and Medina. PIA will operate 297 Haj flights till August 13.

The aviation minister ordered the acquisition of one Boeing 777 and one Airbus 320 from log storage for this purpose.

The minister was informed about PIA’s operational fleet and the fleet expansion plan, whereby the airline is in the process of inducting four A320 aircraft in its fleet.

The minister was informed that one A320 has already joined the PIA fleet and will be part of flight operations after completion of formalities while another aircraft will join the fleet by the end of this month.

The minister instructed PIA officials to make grounded aircraft operational in order to improve its operations. He discussed the options of increasing flights to Nafaj and Damascus.

The minister was informed about the PIA’s successful flight operation to Baku and plans for increasing flight frequencies to Azerbaijan’s capital and also on domestic destinations, such as 18 weekly flights to Skardu, 24 flight per week for Gilgit and two flights per week to Chitral from Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore.

Mr Rafique instructed PIA officials to further improve the cargo business and also to improve the business class facilities for passengers, including upgrade of business class lounges at airports.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has taken measures to further improve ablution rooms and places of worship in order to provide better facilities to worshippers at airports.

A CAA spokesperson said that renovation of prayer places in lounges at Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore and Multan airports had been completed.

In the light of the directives of the aviation minister, places allotted for worshippers at airports are being further improved, said the CAA spokesperson.

The renovation of prayer places in lounges at Sialkot, Gilgit and Chitral airports has also been completed.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2022

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