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PIA plans to bring back Pakistanis stranded in Saudi Arabia

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PIA plans to bring back Pakistanis stranded in Saudi Arabia

RAWALPINDI: The Pak­istan International Airlines has announced that it will resume commercial flights to Saudi Arabia on Monday (today) to bring back stranded Pakistanis after Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) allowed non-Saudis to leave the kingdom and permitted foreign airlines to operate flights.

PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez said the national flag carrier would operate flights to bring back Pakistanis stranded abroad.

He said that a one-way operation of flights would be a financial burden on the PIA, but bringing back stranded Pak­istanis was also inevitable.

The spokesman said that PIA would carry cargo from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia.

PIA CEO Air Marshal Arshad Malik recently instructed departments concerned to maintain attractive and reasonable cargo rates.

He also said the PIA had a tradition of always moving forward in difficult times and bringing back Pakistanis stranded abroad was a national responsibility.

In a circular, Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation said that airlines were now permitted to carry non-Saudi passengers outside the kingdom, taking into account precautionary measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

It further said: “The foreign airlines permitted to operate flights for this purpose must not allow crew to leave the aircraft and not to physically contact ground operation staff of the arrival airport, taking into account precautionary measures to prevent spread of Covid-19.

Saudi Arabia had ‘temporarily’ suspended all international commercial flights for one week in December.

After Saudi Arabia’s suspension of all international commercial flights, PIA had cancelled its 44 flights to and from Saudi Arabia.

Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2020