PIA flights from Dubai will repatriate up to 200 passengers to Islamabad
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is all set to launch special flight operations to repatriate stranded Pakistanis in the UAE from Saturday.
“First special PIA flights from Dubai will repatriate up to 200 passengers to Islamabad. The airline is finalising a plan to launch several special flights during next week to repatriate stranded Pakistani nationals in the UAE,” according to a source in PIA.
Currently,40,000 people have registered with Pakistan Consulate in Dubai for repatriation. It includes over 10,000 overseas Pakistanis who have been rendered jobless due to coronavirus outbreak.
Pakistan’s ambassador to the UAE, Ghulam Dastgir said PIA special flight operations will start on Saturday with Dubai to Islamabad service.
“First special flight will repatriate approximately 200 passengers to Islamabad. We will soon receive the schedule of special flights from the UAE,” the ambassador told Khaleej Times on Friday.
He said PIA special flight operations will be expanded gradually to six airports in Pakistan including Lahore and Karachi.
“Special flights will operate from Abu Dhabi and Dubai to six Pakistani airports once the quarantine facilities are ready. The UAE airlines will also participate in repatriation of stranded Pakistanis,” Dastgir said.
Responding to a question, he said Pakistan has a capacity to quarantine 2,000 international passengers weekly and this capacity will be increased up to 7,000 passengers in coming days.
“Pakistan will open more airports for international flights once quarantine facilities are ready in other cities. The UAE‘s share in total special flights will be on higher side as the number of stranded people are much higher compared to other countries of the world,” he said.
The ambassador appreciated the UAE authorities cooperation in repatriation of stranded Pakistanis and said both the governments have coordinated efforts to facilitate stranded people in the emirate.
To a question, he said ticket prices for special flights are slightly on higher side as the airline will not fly with full passenger load due to coronavirus outbreak.
“Average ticket price will cost close to Dh1,500 per passenger. Aircraft will have to fly empty on one side and has to absorb cost of empty seats as well,” Dastgir said.
Shahid Mughal, regional manager for UAE at PIA, said that special flights for stranded Pakistani nationals will only be allowed to the Islamabad International Airport from Dubai initially due to limited facilities available to quarantine international passengers in the capital.
“All passengers, including the airline crew, will have to pass through quarantine to contain coronavirus outbreak in the country,” Mughal said.
The airline sources said special flight schedule will be announced as soon as the government and the airlines finalise the arrangements. The UAE airlines Emirates, Etihad Airways and flydubai are also expected to get permission to operate special flights to ensure speedy repatriation of stranded Pakistanis in the emirate.
Two special flydubai flights repatriated around 400 prisoner to Pakistan on Tuesday.