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Saturday May 30 2020
Web Desk

COVID-19: Pakistan resumes international flight operations today

Web Desk
Photo: File

International flight operations resumed in the country on Saturday after being suspended for nearly two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The relaxation, however, is only for outbound flights at the moment. No announcement for inbound flight has been made as yet. 

"All national and foreign carriers are permitted to start scheduled/non-scheduled and charter operations for outbound passengers only, with effect from May 29, 2020, 1900 UTC [12am local time, Saturday] from all international airports except Gwadar and Turbat airports," the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said.

In March, Pakistan had suspended all flight operations, both domestic and international, as the number of cases continued to rise in the country. However, limited domestic flight operations had resumed on May 16 in the country from five major airports as the country announced it was easing lockdown measures.

Flights were allowed to operate under certain standard operating procedures (SOPs) set forward by the government, such as screening of passengers at the airport, ensuring wearing of face masks and gloves.

A PIA spokesperson had said the SOPs were strictly being observed to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. It was made mandatory for the passengers to wear masks and use hand sanitisers, the spokesperson had said.

On Friday, the Civil Aviation Authority had said the decision to resume outbound flight operations in the country had been made after the federal government gave the go ahead. 

It mentioned that foreign airlines would be able to take off from Pakistan's airports with passengers.

"The restrictions on inbound passenger operations into Pakistan shall continue. However, special permission is required from government of Pakistan by national foreign carriers and charter operators for flights with inbound passengers on case-to-case basis.

"Additionally diplomatic, special, and cargo flights to/from Pakistan shall also be permitted. All airlines shall adhere to the standard operating procedures [SOPs] for international passenger and charter flights," it added.

The notice also emphasised that the crew of foreign planes landing at Pakistani airports would not be allowed to disembark.

Enhanced flight operation to start from June 1: PCAA

Separately the PCCA said domestic flight operations were to be bumped up "from previous 20-22% to 40-45%" of the pre-coronavirus times.

"Decision has been taken due to growing business and public demand for air travel and smart lockdown being observed by the federal and provincial governments," the PCAA said on Twitter, adding that it was also the result of "people confidence due to best possible health precautions".

"The enhanced operation shall start from 1st June onwards and shall cover Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta," it added.