Pakistan's Consul General Ahmed Amjad Ali (right) interacts with a passenger at Dubai airport.
Jamil Khan, Senior Reporter
Pakistani expatriates planning to avail the special repatriation flights to Pakistan has expressed their concern on a number of issues like inadequate arrangements to acquire tickets, costly prices and non-refundable tickets in case of any mishap.
The community members gathered at the ticketing office in Deira were seen standing in a long queues without any shades as the mercury touched 39º celsius on Monday.
Passengers started gathering early morning after they got phone calls earlier from the consulate to confirm their seats in upcoming special repatriation flights arranged by the Pakistan International Airline (PIA), national carrier which started the repatriation flight operation on April 18.
Through over 34 flights from Dubai, around 11,500 stranded Pakistanis have been repatriated while the total registration was over 62,000.
Sher Zaman, a resident of Dubai told the Gulf Today while waiting in a line for obtaining their seats in outside the booking office near Clock Tower in Dubai, to get his ticket for Peshawar bound PIA special flight, under scorching heat that "we received a call two days ago to visit this office to get our tickets. There are three categories of tickets starting from Dhs1,150, Dhs1,550 and Dhs1,850 for one-way. We are not someone like businessman but an ordinary construction worker and lost job.
"The government should be given subsidised fares for our returning tickets but here it is different as we are waiting for this day for the last over 50 days sitting idle in our rooms,” he said.
He also pointed that that the booking office in collaboration should arrange indoor waiting areas as outside is too hot to bear.
Faisal Siyal who registered online to book his ticket for Faisalabad but was asked to opt for Lahore flight.
"There was clearly mentioned in my online registeration form that I’m resident of Faisalabad and need a ticket in these special flights. But what I told that after waiting for over one month is that he can book a seat for the Lahore flight departing tomorrow. Even though we have to take further arrangements from Lahore to reach my home in Faisalabad as we have no option except to wait for next flights which are yet to confirm,” he said.
Those who got tickets for upcoming special flights told to reach early at Terminal 2 of Dubai Airport where the health officials will conduct a ‘rapid coronavirus test’ ahead of boarding the plane.
"If anyone got positive result for their tests he has to surrender his ticket and there will be no refund,” said Kamran Addi, a passenger for Karachi flight.
He further said that the official at the booking office also told them that the ticket prices were set by the consulate.
Ahmed Amjad Ali, Consul General in a recent meeting with media had clearly said that that the fares were set by the PIA headquarter in Islamabad for all special flights being operating from the Dubai Airport.
Stranded Pakistanis outside a booking office said that they should be allowed to sit inside while waiting for their turn as outside the weather is unbearable as the have to wait for hours.
"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.
"From June 1 to 10, about 8,000 Pakistanis from the UAE and 4,000 from Saudi Arabia will be repatriated. Our embassies and consulates there are facing a lot of pressure and the staff is trying their best,” he said adding that a new policy would soon be announced for overseas Pakistanis.
Those were among who earlier registered on the website provided by the two embassies to return their homeland out of a total of 450,000 Indians and 80,000 Pakistanis.
“So far, 113,154 Pakistani nationals have been repatriated from different parts of the world. We thank all the governments of these countries for their cooperation in facilitating the repatriation of our nationals,” Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said.
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