While most airlines have already completed the majority of their citizen repatriations, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is still half-way through its quest. Today, the airline plans to repatriate some 500 Pakistani nationals from Dubai alone in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Repatriating nationals from the UAE
Today, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is undertaking the gargantuan task of repatriating 500 of its citizens from Dubai. The airline is operating three flights today; two from Dubai to Faisalabad and one from Dubai to Karachi. PIA says that it’s working with the UAE government to repatriate the Pakistani nationals who form an integral part of the manual labor workforce in Dubai.
These flights will be the third set of repatriations that the airline operates to the city. On May 7th, PIA flew an Airbus A320 registered AP-BLA from Dubai International Airport (DXB) to Faisalabad International Airport (LYP). On May 8th, it also operated a repatriation flight on Boeing 777-300ER from DXB to Lahore Allama Iqbal International Airport (LHE) as flight PIA204.
However, today will be one of its larger missions.
Today’s repatriation from Dubai
Two of PIA’s flights from Dubai to Pakistan have already landed, leaving just one flight remaining.
According to Flightera, the first service to leave Dubai was PIA flight number PIA8222 to Faisalabad (LYP). It left DXB at 11:13 (07:13 UTC) and arrived in Pakistan at 15:11 PKT (10:11 UTC). An Airbus A320-200 registered AP-BLA – the same that flew on Thursday this week – operated the flight with 140 passengers on board.
PIA’s Boeing 777-200 flight from DXB to Jinnah International Airport in Karachi (KHI) has also now landed. Flight PIA208 left DXB at 13:32 (09:32 UTC) and arrived in Karachi at 16:25 PKT (11:25 UTC). The aircraft, registered AP-BGK, carried 250 Pakistani citizens.
That leaves just one flight left to land. According to data from Flightera, flight number PK8224 is currently making its way from DXB to Faisalabad (LYP). The aircraft operating the flight is an A320 registered AP-BLU and is expected to arrive at 20:30 PKT (15:30 UTC). The aircraft is carrying 140 passengers.
Even though PIA’s schedule today seems quite full-on, the repatriation effort is far from over.
Continued efforts to bring Pakistanis home
While Dubai is under lockdown, many workers who came to the city for employment now find themselves jobless. As such, there is a lot of work to be done to bring each of them home.
Already, PIA has repatriated 6,000 of its citizens since April 18th by operating more than 24 flights. In addition, 12 UAE-based airlines have stepped up to fly home an additional 2,000 people to Pakistan. Yet there are more flights to be made.
Speaking to the Khaleej Times, the Regional Manager for the UAE at Pakistan International Airlines Shahid Mughal said:
“We have scheduled 4 more flights to Faisalabad, Peshawar, and Lahore this week. Around 280 passengers will be repatriated to Faisalabad on Airbus A320 on May 14th while Boeing 777 aircraft will carry more than 250 travelers to Peshawar on May 18th and to Lahore on May 21st.”
Mr Mughal also stated that the airline is prepared to lay on daily flights to repatriate citizens, especially those from the UAE, when possible.
Not just flights from the UAE
However, PIA’s repatriation effort spans far beyond Dubai. Today, the airline also had two flights scheduled to repatriate citizens from other cities. According to its schedule, the airline had prepared to fly between Sydney and Karachi today as well, but this has been canceled. In addition, the airline provided a repatriation flight between Abu Dhabi and Islamabad. This flight (PIA702) has now landed but was diverted to Lahore.
A glance at PIA’s repatriation schedule shows that the airline has a further 12 flights scheduled so far by the middle of the month. It plans to fly between Pakistan and France, the UK, and Norway.
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