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.
India has also closed a border with neighbouring Myanmar to counter the coronavirus outbreak, as countries across South Asia reported a rise in cases on Wednesday. No cases have so far been confirmed in Myanmar.
The embassy noted that it coordinated with UAE national carriers Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways and Saudi national carrier Saudi Arabian Airlines to operate flights for the next 72 hours according to the announced schedule. It commended in this regard the notable cooperation shown by officials of the national carriers in question.
Sheikh Mohammed, in turn, conveyed the greetings of Sheikh Khalifa to King Salman and Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his wishes of more prosperity and development to the Saudi people.
Al Maqbali said the inauguration of the UAE Embassy in Moroni highlights the profound ties of friendship between the two countries and their keenness to strengthen their overall relations.
The Ministry stressed in a statement on Monday that its aim to continue expanding the scope of testing nationwide to facilitate the early detection of coronavirus cases and carry out the necessary treatment.