Airlines operating to Pakistan are putting on a record 17 additional flights to cope with the heavy passenger rush over the upcoming Eid Al Fitr holiday. Airline sources said that flights on almost all airlines operating from Dubai to Pakistan are booked from December 20 to December 27.

Some airlines said they will replace smaller aircraft with larger ones. "It's difficult to get seats reserved on additional flights being operated to meet the demand," said a leading travel agent in Dubai, who also said that private Pakistani airlines had instructed that tickets for Eid flights should be issued on a coupon uplift basis, to avoid "ghost bookings" and no-shows at the airport.

Airline officials also advised passengers to reach the airport at least three hours before departure to avoid cancellation or delay. Demand on the Dubai-Lahore sector is so great that even Emirates has announced it would be putting on an additional flight on December 25.

A Pakistan International Airlines spokesman said the airline will operate four additional flights from Dubai and Sharjah, and five extra flights from Abu Dhabi. It will operate one extra flight from Dubai to Peshawar on December 24 and another from Dubai to Peshawar via Islamabad on December 25.

It will also operate two extra flights from Sharjah to Gawadar, in Baluchistan, on December 23 and 25. The airline will use bigger aircraft from Dubai to Karachi on December 24, 25, 26 and 27.

The airline will operate one special flight each to Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad on December 26 and two special flights to Peshawar on December 25. It operates five scheduled flights a week from Abu Dhabi to Karachi, three each to Islamabad and Peshawar and two to Lahore.

It also operates, from Dubai, 14 weekly flights to Karachi, seven to Lahore, two to Multan and Faisalabad, three to Islamabad and four to Peshawar. All flights are booked from December 21 to 27.

"This year, we are witnessing more rush on the Dubai-Lahore sector," said Aleem Khan, Marketing Manager of Aero Asia, a private Pakistani airline. The airline will put on two extra flights on the Dubai-Lahore sector on December 25 and 26 and one additional flight to Karachi.

Shaheen Air will fly three extra flights. One flight will be from Dubai to Lahore on December 23 and another to Peshawar. It will also operate a special flight from Al Ain to Peshawar on December 25. Indian Airlines has also announced it will operate two additional flights from Sharjah to Cochin on December 22 and 25.