Dubai: Pakistani expatriates were left confused after Dubai-based low cost airline flydubai opened sales for tickets on flights to Pakistan even as Pakistani diplomatic missions in the UAE warned citizens against purchasing tickets.
The Pakistan Embassy and the consulate issued public notices on Tuesday, warning Pakistani passengers to be careful while purchasing tickets as no international airlines have permission to enter from the Pakistan government yet.
As of now, passengers who want to travel to Pakistan can book flights on flydubai website. The airline has also warned passengers that flights will be operated subject to government approval. The airline is not offering reservations from Pakistan to UAE.
Flydubai announced flights to different destinations in Pakistan, with effect from April 15. However, the airline says on its website that only Pakistani citizens will be allowed to travel on these flights.
The airline’s decision to open its routes followed the Pakistan government’s decision to keep international flights suspended until April 14. However, the Pakistan government has not yet announced whether flights will be opened on April 15.
When contacted by Gulf News, a flydubai spokesperson issued a short statement on the issue.
“A notice to Airmen (NOTAM) sets out the flight restrictions that are in place between the UAE and Pakistan in response to COVID-19. flydubai has opened flights for sale to Pakistan to allow repatriations for their nationals from 15 April and will operate subject to government approval.”
The airline spokesperson also said: "This is an evolving situation and we are working in coordination with the local authorities to facilitate repatriation flights. Passengers will receive a full refund to the original form of payment and no booking penalties will apply."
It is pertinent to mention here that no other airlines, including Pakistan’s national carrier Pakistan International Airline, Emirates or Airblue have so far opened flights for sale due to suspension of flight operation between Pakistan and the UAE.
Travel agents continue bookings
A travel agent told Gulf News that a large number of Pakistani passengers have already booked flights on flydubai and the one-way fare ranges from Dh1,400 to more than Dh2,000.
He said that flydubai operates flights to Karachi, Faisalabad, Multan, Sialkot and Quetta from Dubai.
According to Pakistani diplomatic missions, more than 25,000 Pakistanis - mostly those who came on visit/tourist visas but stranded here after the flight restrictions - have registered demanding to go back home at the earliest.
The Pakistan Embassy spokesperson told Gulf News that they are currently in talks with the government to resolve the issue at the earliest.