Etihad Returns To Pakistan But Passengers Must Have COVID Tests

Etihad Airways has returned to Pakistan today, but with the caveat that every passenger boarding to Abu Dhabi must undertake a COVID test before the flight. The carrier suspended travel for a month to the country but has since resumed flights to Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi.

Etihad, Inbound flights, United Arab Emirates
Etihad has returned to Pakistan, but with a catch. Photo: Getty Images

What are the new flights?

Etihad Airways has resumed Pakistan services today, with twelve flights per week:

  • Seven from Lahore
  • Two from Islamabad
  • Three from Karachi

“Starting from July 16, you can travel from Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore via Abu Dhabi to worldwide destinations. Our planes will be landing at more than 50 destinations in July and August, connecting the world through our home in Abu Dhabi,” – The airline said in a statement reported by Gulf News.

However, for those travelers wishing to fly inbound to Abu Dhabi, they must undergo a coronavirus test before departure to ensure they are not carrying the virus.

Etihad brought in the new restrictions after several passengers from Pakistan proved positive on a flight to Hong Kong.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.

What test do you need?

Passengers will need a copy of a PCR test result (coronavirus test) with them as they board. They need to take the test no more than ninety-six hours (three days before the flight). However, children under 12 don’t need to provide evidence of a test if they are traveling with parents with negative results.

Initially, the airline only allowed results from one lab in Pakistan, but there was such a rush of passengers submitting samples that the airline since expanded labs. Today, test results can be from one of four authorized labs; Chughtai Labs, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust, Aga Khan University Hospital, and Islamabad Diagnostic Centre.

Etihad airbus travelpass Getty Images
The conditions are strict for new travelers from Pakistan. Photo: Getty Images

Passengers are also able to undergo the test at home and submit the sample to a lab before flying. This gives passengers a hindrance free experience and allows the testing to take up as little time as possible.

“We have a paramount responsibility to ensure those who are traveling from Abu Dhabi can do so assured in the knowledge that every effort is being made to care for them at every stage of their journey. Enabling home PCR testing will remove much unnecessary stress from the travel experience during this challenging period” – Dr. Nadia Bastaki, Vice President Medical Services, Etihad Airways, to Gulf News.

Lastly, when arriving in Abu Dhabi (and not transferring), passengers will undergo thermal testing at the airport and self-isolate for fourteen days.

etihad plane getty images
Etihad provides an essential link between Abu Dhabi and Pakistan. Photo: Getty Images

Pakistan International Airlines resumed operations earlier this month, and the same conditions apply for entry into Abu Dhabi. Emirates similarly returned operations to Pakistan out of Dubai.

“These measures are also a reflection of those being taken across Abu Dhabi, which has been a world-leader in its response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, including vaccine research, mass testing, and community sanitization programs. Etihad will continue to work closely with the local authorities and partners to find innovative and convenient ways to protect our guests, and to promote secure and hygienic flying as the world slowly opens up to international travel,” continued Dr. Bastaki.

What do you think of this news? Will you be flying from Pakistan? Let us know in the comments.