Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has allowed foreign airlines to operate in the country and non-Saudis to return to their country of origin. Post GACA’s decision, the Pakistan International Airline (PIA) has decided to recommence its commercial flights to Saudi Arabia so that stranded Pakistanis can be brought back, informed PIA spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez.
The airline has decided to carry cargo from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia. Despite realizing how much of a financial load one-way operations of flights would be, PIA is determined to bring Pakistanis back to their homeland, Abdullah Hafeez added.
Relevant departments have been instructed to put out inexpensive cargo rates, by PIA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Air Marshal Arshad Malik. The airline believes it is its national responsibility to bring Pakistanis back since PIA has always been one step ahead amid difficult times, the CEO added.
According to a circular issued by GACA, international flight carriers are now allowed to take non-Saudi passengers outside Saudi Arabia while also observing SOPs to prevent Covid-19 from spreading more than it already has.
“The foreign airlines permitted to operate flights for this purpose must not allow the crew to leave the aircraft and not to physically contact ground operation staff of the arrival airport, taking into account precautionary measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” the circular added.
Saudi Arabia had temporarily suspended all international commercial flights, last week. It was done to prevent the spread of a new strain of Covid-19 now rapidly spreading across several countries.
Not long after, PIA also cancelled its flights scheduled for Saudi Arabia. Flights from Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi were cancelled. A total of 44 flights going to Saudi Arabia were cancelled by PIA.
“Until flight permissions are restored, all flights will remain cancelled,” said PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan.
He assured that Pakistani passengers stranded in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan who have been inconvenienced would be accommodated as soon as flight operations are allowed to resume.