As many as 376 prisoners released by a Gulf country have been repatriated to Pakistan via two special flights.
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Wednesday started its second phase of special flights to repatriate thousands of Pakistanis stranded in different countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PIA has already partially restored its international schedule, chartered and cargo flights under special approval by the government and has repatriated hundreds of Pakistani nationals from different countries.
According to the flight plan chalked out for the second phase, the PIA will operate nine special flights till April 20 to and from Islamabad.
PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez said that the national flag carrier would operate a special flight from Karachi to Indonesia’s capital Jakarta on April 18. Two special flights will be operated to Toronto from Islamabad and Karachi.
The PIA will operate a special flight from Islamabad to Manchester on April 17/18. Two special flights, PK-8852 and PK-8894, which had been planned to operate from Islamabad to South Korea’s capital Seoul on April 17, have been cancelled due to elections in South Korea.
A special flight will be operated to a Gulf country on April 17 to bring back stranded Pakistanis, while another flight of Boeing 777 will repatriate stranded Pakistanis from Jakarta on April 18.
The PIA will operate on April 20 a special flight, PK-784, from Toronto to Karachi to repatriate Pakistanis stranded in Canada.
The spokesman said people could contact their nearest PIA office, website or call centre for booking seats and Pakistanis stranded in different countries could also purchase tickets from Pakistan to travel back to their home country.
On the other hand, the government is considering making two other airports - Lahore and Peshawar - operational to share the burden of special flights’ passengers. The PIA has also made special arrangements to send foreign nationals to their countries.
Meanwhile, as many as 376 Pakistani prisoners released by a Gulf country have been repatriated to Pakistan via two special flights.
"I am appealing to the people to stay at home. We have to keep ourselves and our children safe," Murad Ali Shah was quoted as saying while presiding over the coronavirus task force meeting on Friday.
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.
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.
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