PIA to resume special flights to UK
Karachi: Based on popular demand of expats intending to travel to and from Pakistan to reunite with their loved ones, PIA is all set to resume its special relief flights to UK from April 19, 2020. This comes after when PIA launched massive operations to dispatch thousands of stranded UK citizens on April 4, 2020. However, due regulated inbound flow of travelers consequent to COVID-19 pandemic, set forth by the Government of Pakistan, despite PIA’s earnest desire, it could not fly back desired number of diaspora to Pakistan, which had huge impact on the commercial viability of the flights as well. The new plans are to operate daily flights from Islamabad and Lahore for three network points in UK; London, Manchester and Birmingham. Necessary permissions has been sought by PIA management from the government to operate these flights while fulfilling all health and safety requirements set by respective agencies of both the countries. This decision was taken after rounds of discussions between CEO PIA and UK High Commissioner to Pakistan, held under the directions of Minister of Aviation Mr Ghulam Sarwar Khan. The Minister directed PIA management to plan and execute these operations on priority to address concerns of both stranded Pakistanis in UK and stranded British Citizens in Pakistan. PIA spokesman confirmed the development saying that demand is high and being the national carrier we have to step forward in the time of the need. He further urged people intending to travel to or from UK to please immediately contact PIA offices, contact centers and PIA websites to secure their bookings, whether fresh or old ones to be re-adjusted. A large number of people were affected due to COVID 19 consequential flight cancellations and eagerly awaiting the resumption of operations. With limited number of capacity available, seats will be sold or allocated on first come first serve basis, so do not delay. PIA Contact Centre would be contacting the people who have already submitted re-confirmation requests, only after which customers are requested to approach PIA offices if required. For fresh bookings, passengers can visit PIA offices or PIA website. The spokesperson further added that it was the demand of all the stranded passengers to reduce the fares on humanitarian basis, hence PIA being the national flag bearer of Pakistan, and despite not meeting operational costs, have offered special discounted fare of PKR 110,000 or GBP 525 One Way Fare enabling large number of citizens to avail the travel opportunities. PIA spokesman has requested travelers to immediately rush for the bookings as flights have already been opened in the system for that matter. Customers will be treated on first come first serve basis to ensure transparency. It would be worth mentioning here that with direct operations between Pakistan and UK with shortest possible travel time and no transit, these flights offer least exposure to the pandemic.