Council General of Pakistan in Dubai Ahmed Amjad Ali and other officials with a passenger at Dubai International Airport on Saturday. Supplied photo
Around 227 stranded Pakistanis from Dubai took the first special flight to Islamabad on Saturday evening.
The Pakistan International Airline (PIA) flight with 227 passengers, mostly from Dubai and Northern Emirates, were lucky to get seat confirmation earlier and boarded the flight which left Dubai around 7pm local time.
The government of Pakistan organised a number of special flights to bring back stranded Pakistanis from different countries around the world to the country. In this regard, the Pakistan's national carrier finalised various flights with the local ground authorities, including the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in Pakistan and other bodies.
The Consulate General of Pakistan in Dubai confirmed to Gulf Today that it received requests from over 5,000 community members desperate to get back their homes after they either lost jobs or were asked to stay at home by their employers.
A Pakistani family at Dubai Airport.
According to media reports, many passengers complained about the exorbitant ticket prices for the one-way flight. Many said that they were forced to purchase tickets priced between Dhs1,800 to Dhs2,000 for the one-way flight from Dubai to Islamabad; in normal conditions the ticket would have cost around Dhs450 to Dhs700.
However, many appreciated the Pakistan government’s move to organise the special flights.
Shahid Mughal, the spokesperson of PIA in Dubai, told Gulf Today that they were facilitating the community members registered with the Consulate in the last couple of days. “On April 20, there will be four more flights – 2 from Dubai to Lahore and 2 from Dubai to Karachi – which will carry around 1,000 community members,” he said.
He also confirmed that the PIA operation was already taking shape with more special flights to bring Pakistanis back to their homeland: two flights from London and Manchester to Karachi were confirmed in the next 2-3 days.
Thirteen more repatriation flights will depart the UAE between April 20 and April 28, the source said, adding that they will be operated by Emirates, Air Arabia and PIA.
Over 62,000 community members have been registered to seek repatriation as the regular flight operations have suspended since the COVID-19 pandemic declared in March earlier this year.
Imran has also appealed to the leaders of rich countries, the UN secretary general and heads of financial institutions to give debt relief to developing countries like Pakistan so that they could combat the deadly COVID-19 in a better way.
"We have been informed deserving community members through phone to book their tickets for upcoming special flights of PIA and the tickets have been issuing through special counters set up at the Terminal 2, Dubai International Airport,” he said.
Expatriates living in the UAE were elated as their family members, colleagues, friends stuck in other countries are now able to return as the UAE has lifted restriction on incoming flights from Monday onwards.
The Committee explained that the new guidelines take into account the exceptional situations of some categories of people including people of determination, children, and those with chronic respiratory conditions.
The UAE will today (Monday) start receiving residents with valid residence visas, who were stranded abroad due to coronavirus pandemic from various countries.