Domestic flights airport
Islamabad International Airport has completed preparations to receive passengers as Pakistan announces to resume regular international flights from June 20. Image Credit: Social media

Dubai: Good news for stranded Pakistanis as their government has announced to resume all international flights from June 20.

“We are opening all international flights with 25 per cent capacity with affect from June 20 in a bid to expedite the process of bringing back our citizens stranded abroad,” said Dr Moeed Yusuf, Special Assistant to Pakistan Prime Minister on National Security.

He made the important announcement on Wednesday at a joint press conference along with Syed Zulfiqar Bukhari, Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistani.

Regular ticket reservation

He said that passengers would now be able to buy tickets directly from the airlines following the normal reservation procedure. There is no need to get in touch with the Pakistani consulates and embassies for book repatriation flights anymore.

“These are repatriation flights and will start operating at 25 per cent capacity from June 20. If you don’t need to come back, please don’t come back right now,” Yusuf reiterated.

The announcement came after a federal cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on Tuesday gave green signal to resume international flight operation. Normal International flights were suspended in Pakistan on Mach 21 as part of the precautionary measures to stem the spread of COVID-19.

The government, however, earlier allowed Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and some selected foreign airlines to operate special flights to repatriate stranded Pakistanis from around the world. However, overseas Pakistanis complained about lack of transparency, high cost of tickets and favouritism in selecting the passengers for repatriation.

Eight airports opened

Meanwhile, Yusuf told media that eight airports are operational across the country for the repatriation purpose from June 20. He said up to 45,000 Pakistanis will be brought back to the country in a week. All the passengers will have to undergo COVID-19 tests at the airport and they will be bound for 14-day self-quarantine at their homes even if they are tested negative.

Bukhari said 80,000 Pakistanis and 600 dead bodies have so far been brought back to the country. He said all returning Pakistanis should follow the standard operation procedure (SOPs) put in place to stem the spread of coronavirus pandemic. He said the government is well aware of the problems being faced by the overseas Pakistanis and is working effectively to address their problems.

Focus on Gulf countries

The GCC countries remained the focus for the government where a large number of expats were still stuck due to limited number of flights operated by Pakistan.

Some 25,514 out of total 82,000 registered stranded Pakistanis have so far been repatriated from the UAE, followed by Saudi Arabia from where 8,740 brought back to the country. Some 4,406 were repatriated form Qatar, 4,301 form the United Kingdom, 2,987 from Afghanistan (via land route) and 91 by air, 2,956 Oman, 1,159 Malaysia, 1,349 the United States of America, 924 Iran (via land route) and 418 from India (via land route).