Pakistan to start week-long repatriation flight programme
Islamabad - Pakistan is set to start a week-long repatriation flight programme from Saturday to bring back its nationals stranded overseas because of disruption of flights and tightening of travel restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said 17 repatriation flights would be flown between April 4-11, reports Dawn news.
Under the plan approved by the National Coordination Committee on the Covid-19 pandemic, phased repatriation would be carried out under which priority would be given to those held up in transit, followed by those, whose visas were expiring. Pakistanis working or studying overseas would be third on the priority list, Qureshi said.
All returning passengers, he said, would be subject to coronavirus testing at the airports for which the testing and quarantine capacity was being augmented.
Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said the Pakistan International Airlines had operated special flights to bring back stranded Pakistanis from Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Qatar and Thailand.
"Plans for repatriation from Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, Tashkent, Baku, Baghdad, London and Toronto have been finalised, while plans for repatriation of our nationals from other destinations is also under active consideration. As this is a dynamic and evolving situation, these plans will be reviewed regularly," Dawn news quoted Farooqui as saying.
Britain also announced that charter flights would help repatriate Britons from “priority countries”. The government has partnered with British Airways, Easyjet, Jet2 and other airlines to provide planes to bring Britons home.
Speaking to IOL Travel, Nigel Casey, the British High Commissioner to South Africa, said they were “working urgently” to get British travellers home. He said it was unclear when the flights will operate. However, flights will be advertised as soon as it becomes available.