Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
Acting on the government’s decision to partially resume international flight operations, the Pakistan International Airline (PIA) has announced a schedule for its 10 flights to be operated to the United Kingdom and Canada from April 4 to April 10.
PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez said that two special flights, one PK-789 with 264 passengers on board has departed for Toronto from Lahore, while another flight PK-781 carrying 242 passengers has flown from Karachi to Toronto. These flights were not part of the international flight schedule of 10 flights announced by the national flag carrier.
In addition to scanning of all passengers, disinfection of their luggage was carried out before departures of the flights and top officials of PIA were also present at the airports.
The spokesman said the two aircraft would return to Islamabad without carrying any passengers from Canada.
Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) had operated special flights to bring back stranded Pakistanis from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Thailand.
“Plans for repatriation from Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, Tashkent, Baku, Baghdad, London and Toronto have been finalised, while plans for repatriation of our nationals from other destinations is also under active consideration. As this is a dynamic and evolving situation, these plans will be reviewed regularly,” Dawn news quoted Farooqui as saying.
Officials said out of the 10 flights scheduled by the national flag carrier, four have been allocated for British nationals stranded in Pakistan. Among the passengers are over 500 British nationals who had been asking their government to take them back as soon as possible.
One of the four flights will take off from Islamabad for Manchester and the other for London on April 4, while two other flights have been scheduled from Islamabad to Manchester and Birmingham for April 5.
In a video message, British High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr Christian Turner said that British authorities are doing everything to facilitate UK citizens’ return to UK.
“We are doing everything we can to help support you to return home. That is my and my team’s single priority. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work going on with the government of Pakistan and airlines to deliver that,” he said.
After negotiations between British and Pakistani authorities, four flights were scheduled to take back British nationals stranded in Pakistan due to suspension of international flight operation by the Pakistan government.
According to the flight schedule, on April 7, the PIA will operate three flights - one from Islamabad to London, the second from Islamabad to Manchester and the third from Lahore to Toronto.
On April 8, three flights, one from Islamabad to Manchester, the second flight from Islamabad to Toronto and the third flight from Lahore to London would be operated.
On April 9, a PIA flight is scheduled from Islamabad to Manchester and two other flights - one from Islamabad to London and another other from Islamabad to Manchester have been scheduled to operate. The schedule for international flights for April 11 is yet to be prepared.
Imran and his wife Bushra Bibi tested positive for the coronavirus the other day. The prime minister tested COVID-19 positives two days after receiving the vaccine, triggering a debate on the effectiveness of the jab.
On April 19, PIA flight PK-8220 will depart for Dubai from Islamabad, while PIA’s return flight PK-8221 will arrive at Multan airport from Dubai on the same day. The PIA flight PK-8223 will go from Islamabad to Dubai and will depart from Dubai to Faisalabad on April 19.
India on Friday became the third country in the world to record one million coronavirus cases, following Brazil and the United States where infections also continued to surge.
The Coromandel Express, which runs from Kolkata to Chennai, derailed and fell on the opposite track, with many people still trapped, the reports said.
Sheikh Mohammed added in a tweet on Twitter: "We found its executive director at the service counters, receiving customers, speeding up procedures, and contributing to clearing transactions. The secret shopper assured us that providing the service did not exceed five minutes."
The first lady arrived in Cairo from Amman, where she attended the wedding of Crown Prince Hussein. She is travelling to Morocco on Saturday before heading to Portugal, the final stop of her tour, on Monday.