Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is mulling over partially restarting international flight operations tomorrow. National Security Committee (NSC) and Foreign Office are expected to give formal approval to national flag carrier today.
Following a sharp increase in the Coronavirus cases, PIA had decided to suspend international flights till March 28.
Initially, only New Islamabad International Airport will be used to operate international flights amid the Coronavirus lockdown.
As per sources, 2 chartered flights carrying 400 passengers including officials of the Canadian High Commission will take off from Islamabad to Toronto after the resumption of flight operations. All passengers will be provided masks and gloves during the flight.
From April 3, PIA will partially resume commercial flights with the first flight heading to Toronto from Islamabad as well. PIA is also considering to run 3 commercial flights to the United Kingdom after April 4.
PIA has undertaken precautionary measures to ensure Coronavirus is not transmitted into the country from abroad. All incoming passengers will be screened and kept in quarantine.
Passengers will be provided masks and gloves while flight services will remain suspended. Additionally, their body temperatures will be recorded before boarding. The government is also considering mandatory Coronavirus testing of all passengers coming from abroad at arrival.
For commercial flights, PIA will give preference to passengers having bookings for March 27 and March 28. Tickets for the flights will be available at PIA’s booking office and online agents.
COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy financial toll on airlines around the world with travelers preferring to stay at home during this global crisis. According to a world-leading aviation analysis and research firm, airlines could go bankrupt by May this year if Coronavirus continues to wreak havoc.
Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan had cautioned that PIA’s losses might cross Rs.6 billion by the end of March due to suspended international and domestic flight operations.