Pakistan Extends International Flight Suspensions

Pakistan’s government has extended its travel restriction policies until April 21st. Authorities state that this is in a bid to continue containing the spread of COVID-19.

Pakistan International Airlines
Pakistani International Airlines will still have much of its fleet grounded until at least April 21st. Photo: Aero Pixels via Wikimedia Commons

Continued suspensions

The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) made the announcement on Thursday evening. Both international and domestic flights will remain grounded as part of the extension.

According to The Express Tribune, the statement said the below:

“As per decision of the Government of Pakistan, the suspension of International and Domestic Flight Operations as effected earlier has been extended up to Tuesday April 21, 2020 [at] 2359 PST,”

Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 777
Some special flights will still be able to be conducted amid the restrictions. Photo: Getty Images

Strong reaction

The PCAA also shared the update on its Twitter. This announcement caused quite a stir among the public.

The statement was met with a barrage of angry tweets from people wishing to get in the air as soon as possible. Some travelers stated that they are trapped while others felt that the restrictions are unfair.

Even though there are clearly a lot of frustrated people, Pakistan is far from the only nation enforcing a ban on flights right now. Several countries have total airport closures, while the majority have some sort of restriction in place.

While the coronavirus pandemic remains uncontained, there will continue to be restrictions. However, with no clear indication of how long it will last for or how it will be tackled, there needs to be a balance in place soon.

The health and well-being of global populations are being indirectly affected by the restrictions. So many passengers rely on air travel for important personal and financial reasons. People can’t see their families, make urgent appointments, access life-saving mediation, or earn an income due to the strict bans.

Airblue aircraft
Other Pakistani carriers such as Airblue will also be impacted by the extension. Photo: Airblue

Is it time for a change?

Bans are largely an effort to help with damage limitation rather than prevention. However, there are studies by the likes of CATO that suggest the ways that these bans have been enacted may not so effective as other solutions in the fight against the virus.

Therefore, there needs to be a review of how air travel is conducted amid the outbreak. More efficient screening techniques, reduced schedules, and strict quarantine measures could be a better solution than outright bans.

In fact, China, the country where the outbreak started is now allowing several flights to operate. One large caveat is that those arriving will need to go through a 14-day quarantine at a government facility, which has to be paid for our of the traveler’s pocket. Even though the procedure is strict, there will still be plenty of people willing to go through the process.

April 21st is only ten days away and active cases are still rising in Pakistan. According to Worldometer, there are over 4,700 confirmed cases in the country at the time of writing, with just under 4,000 still active. Therefore, it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear that the government will extend its restrictions a little longer if they don’t place alternative solutions.

What are your thoughts on Pakistan extending its flight restrictions until April 21st? Have you been impacted by the announcement? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.

Simple Flying reached out to some Pakistan-based airlines for comment on how its operations will be affected. We will update the article with any further comments.