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March 3, 2019

PIA resumes normal flight operations after 4 days of suspension


March 3, 2019

KARACHI: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has resumed its normal flight operations after remaining suspended for four days following simmering conflicts between Pakistan and India, an official statement said on Saturday.

“PIA has started with restoration of its normal flight schedule from Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta stations after remaining suspended for four days,” the statement said.

“PIA has restored its flight operation initially from four cities that are Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta.”

The decision to close airspace on Wednesday came after a rare aerial fight between Pakistan and India ignited fears of an all-out conflict, with world powers rushing to urge restraint.

The airspace closure disrupted major routes between Europe and South Asia, with mounting frustration from passengers stranded at international airports.

Thai Airways cancelled nearly 30 flights, affecting 5,000 passengers. The decision affected services to London, Munich, Paris, Brussels, Milan, Vienna, Stockholm, Zurich, Copenhagen and Oslo. Singapore Airlines was also forced to divert Europe-bound flights to Mumbai and Dubai to refuel, while a flight to Frankfurt was cancelled.

Emirates, Qatar Airways, Saudi Airlines, and Air Canada were all also among other carriers forced to cancel and divert flights.

Minister for Aviation and Privatisation Mian Soomro said Prime Minister Imran Khan instructed the aviation sector to facilitate the stranded passengers on priority especially, those who are stuck in Saudi Arabia and Gulf as they may be facing shortage of funds and expiry of their visas.

“Arshad Malik, president and chief executive officer of PIA, is monitoring the restoration of operation and has directed all PIA officers and staff on PIA’s entire network to complete the restoration job at the earliest,” the statement added.

More than 400 flights and 25,000 passengers have been affected during the last four days.

PIA’s staff deputed at stations is working day and night to facilitate the passengers. More than 8,000 passengers have been transported to their destinations since restoration of the flight operations.

“PIA staff of passenger service, ticketing and reservations, engineering, flight service, food service, ground handling, marketing and flight operations are doing all possible efforts to make it a success,” the statement added.

PIA also provided surface transportation to passengers from Karachi to Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, and Islamabad during the closure of air space.

PIA’s staff at foreign stations is also putting in all-out efforts for the convenience of passengers.

Malik said the situation will soon come to normal. “However, complete restoration will come when flight operation from whole country begins,” he was quoted as saying. However, PIA flights to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Beijing remain temporarily suspended.

“We are working as one team and beyond the call of duty in this hour of need and assure the government that every possible effort will be carried out to clear the backlog within shortest possible span of time,” PIA’s chief said. He also appreciated the passengers for their cooperation in the interest of nation and country.

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