ISLAMABAD: National flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), has asked the UK government to allow four additional flights to Britain ahead of an April 9 travel ban on people from four countries, including Pakistan.
From 4 a.m. on Friday, Pakistan, Kenya, the Philippines, and Bangladesh will be put on a UK red list, joining around three dozen other nations mainly in Africa, the Middle East, and South America, amid fears over the spread of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variants.
On Monday, PIA spokesperson, Abdullah Hafeez Khan, told Arab News: “People are desperately trying to go back to the UK before April 9. We have requested four additional flights to the UK and we sincerely hope that we will get permission by today or tomorrow.
“By now we have operated three flights and we have transported nearly 900 passengers (to Britain),” he said, adding that PIA planned to operate four more flights to the UK until Wednesday. “We are hopeful to accommodate 1,000 more passengers.”
Khan noted that the Pakistani airline would be able to fly another 1,000 passengers to the UK if the British government gave permission for extra flights.
British Pakistanis form one of the largest expat communities in the UK. Days before the start of Ramadan, when many of them travel to be with their families for the holy month and Eid, travelers from Pakistan have been told they will be denied entry and have to pay for expensive 10-day UK hotel quarantine at designated sites.
Pakistan’s planning minister, Asad Umar, recently said that the UK government’s decision to ban the entry of Pakistanis was based on politics, not science.
“Every country has a right to take decisions to safeguard the health of their citizens. However, the recent decision by the UK government to add some countries, including Pakistan, on the red list raises legitimate questions whether choice of countries is based on science or foreign policy,” he added.