Pakistan International Airlines have suspended flight operations to and from Qatar for management of the spread of Coronavirus after Qatar imposed a temporary travel ban on 14 nationalities including Pakistan.
Abdullah Hafeez, the spokesman of PIA informed that flight operations to Qatar will remain suspended till March 31st. The national carrier has announced refunds, travel waivers and free of charge for all those customers who had booked tickets to and from Qatar. PIA apologized to the customers for the inconvenience.
— Treasure Magazine (@TreasureMagazi1) March 10, 2020
PIA had taken a precautionary move when it suspended flight operations to Iran last month.
Qatar Airways offloaded Pakistani passengers from two separate flights from Karachi and Islamabad amid fear of the spread of Coronavirus.
The airline offloaded 48 passengers travelling from flight QR 615 to Doha from Islamabad and 48 passengers from another flight from Doha to Karachi, leading to a total of 96 Pakistani passengers stopped from flying to Qatar. All these passengers were travelling to Qatar on a visit visa.
Meanwhile, Qatar has imposed a temporary travel ban on 14 countries including Pakistan as a precaution to stop the outbreak of Coronavirus in the country. Other countries included in the travel ban are India, Nepal, China, Iran, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Syria, South Korea, Philippines, Bangladesh, Egypt, and Lebanon.
The travel ban is for the passengers travelling both on-arrival and a visit visa but passengers travelling on transit will be allowed to enter the country.
Qatar’s Government Communication Officer said the decision is additional to the suspension of Qatar Airways flight to and from Italy “a preventive measure due to the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide”.
“The decision affects all individuals intending to enter from these countries, including visas upon arrival, those with a residence or work permit, and temporary visitors,” said the press release.
31 مارچ تک پروازیں معطل رہیں گی، آپریشن کی معطلی سے پیش آنے والی مشکلات پر پی آئی اے معذرت خواہ ہے، ترجمان
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Doha has urged “all citizens and residents to avoid all but essential travel at this time.”
Meanwhile, with a surge in the cases of Coronavirus, Pakistan has reported 16 confirmed cases to date.
While Qatar has placed a temporary travel ban on Pakistan, the United States Transport Security Administration is visiting Islamabad for a final inspection and for issuance of clearance to direct flight operations towards the US. The security team will also visit Jinnah International Airport Karachi and Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore for inspection.
Pakistan is hopeful to get clearance from the US Transport and Security Service and resume direct flights to the United States from May this year.