Stranded passengers
Pakistan Consul General in Dubai Ahmed Amjad Ali talking to passengers who flew from Dubai Airport on a special PIA flight to Islamabad last month. File photo Image Credit:

Dubai: Pakistan Consul General in Dubai Ahmed Amjad Ali has warned the community to beware of fake travel agents who are selling tickets for special repatriation flights.

“No travel agent is allowed to sell tickets for the PIA’s special flights,” he said. His warning came after some people complained that they were swindled by some travel agents as they transferred the money to ‘agents’ who called them to sell tickets for the special flights to Pakistan and never got tickets.

“We have also informed the police about this ‘ticket scam’ to take action against the unscrupulous agents who are looting people even in this difficult time,” he added.

I want to make it clear again that only PIA is authorised to sell tickets for the special repatriation flights at their dedicated counters

- Pakistan Consul General Ahmed Amjad Ali

Scam explained

Explain the scam, the Consul Generals said, a destitute passenger who wants to go back to Pakistan receives a call from a fake agent who offers to book the ticket. He tells the passenger to transfer the money to his bank account and a ticket will be issued and sent to him later. Some agents even gave the consulate’s reference to trap the people who are desperate to go back home. The swindler later switches off the phone after receiving the money.

Tickets only at PIA counters

“I want to make it clear again that only PIA is authorised to sell tickets for the special repatriation flights at their dedicated counters. A consulate staff call the registered people and direct them to go to the PIA counter to buy the ticket. Please do not transfer money to anyone’s bank account,” Consul General Ali reiterated.

He also asked the people to report any scam to the consulate. Tickets for PIA flights are booked following the recommendations of the Pakistani missions, which have prepared lists of stranded Pakistanis on priority basis. Those who are compelled to travel due to emergencies including pregnant women and patients and those who have lost jobs are given priority, followed by job seekers who came on visit visas and those who are on unpaid leaves due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Refuted report about 5,000 pregnant women

Consul General Ali also refuted a media report that 5,000 pregnant Pakistani women are waiting to be repatriated from the UAE. “This is totally baseless report as we did not have any figures of pregnant women registered with us,” he said.

Ali, however, clarified that they would give priority to pregnant women on special flights but after they get a medical certificate to ensure that they are fit to travel.

9,000 repatriated so far

More than 69,000 Pakistanis have registered with their diplomatic mission in the UAE for repatriation. Around 9,000 stranded Pakistanis have so far been repatriated since April 18.

More flights this week

According to the new special flight schedule, at least 11 flights are being operated as part of fifth phase of repatriation plan from May 11 to May 21. PIA has already operated one flight to Karachi on May 11. The airline will operate two flights to Faisalabad on May 14; one flight to Peshawar on May 18 and one flight to Lahore; and two to Faisalabad on May 21.