Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is likely to incur approximately Rs. 180 million in losses after Saudi government imposed 48-hour ban on Umrah pilgrims over coronavirus cases in Pakistan, reported a local newspaper.
Saudi Arabia, on Thursday, halted travel to the country over coronavirus fears just months ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, as the Middle East recorded more than 220 confirmed cases. The temporary ban by the Saudi authorities on the entry of Umrah pilgrims and tourists has been placed despite having no corona patient in Saudi Arabia.
The authorities have also halted the visits of foreign pilgrims to the Masjid-e-Nabavi in Medina and the tourist-visa holders will also be denied entry into the holy land.
This has not only raised different opinions among religious scholars but the same is likely to create an instant impact on the sales of international airlines, which carry pilgrims across the globe.
This temporary ban of 48 hours on Umrah pilgrims will provide a financial shock of around Rs. 180 million to the PIA, which transports around 32 percent of total Umrah pilgrims from Pakistan, said the report.
Out of the total eight million Muslims, who make their journey to Saudi Arabia to perform religious duties annually, around 1.5 million Umrah pilgrims travel from Pakistan, which is said to be the second highest number after Indonesia.
PIA spokesman confirmed that the decision will create an adverse impact on PIA’s revenues as the KSA sector contributed 37 percent of the total earnings to the national flag carrier. He said that PIA had lifted 480,000 Umrah pilgrims last year, which is 32 percent of total Umrah passengers.
“This is off-season as a majority of intended pilgrims are planning to perform Umrah in the holy month of Ramazan, starting from late April 2020 but PIA’s daily average sale of Umrah tickets is still around 1500 hence the cumulative loss would be nearly around Rs. 180 million after said restriction,” he maintained.
We have canceled 1,400 tickets of Umrah pilgrims, who were scheduled to travel with PIA on February 27, 2020 (Thursday) after this temporary ban.
Moreover, he said that PIA had sold 33000 Umrah tickets for next month (March) and the national flag carrier would be hit hard if this ban was extended further.