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PIA hikes fares for people returning from KSA

June 15, 2020

LAHORE: The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has increased fares manifold for those travelling from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan.

Pakistan Embassy in Riyadh has issued a notification in this regard, a copy of which is also available with The News. The notification said that all passengers, travelling from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan’s cities including Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Faisalabad and Multan, will be charged 1,861 Saudi Riyal (Rs81,884) for economy class, and 2,182 Saudi Riyal (Rs96,000) for economy plus class.

It has also mentioned that passenger do not need to come to the Pak Embassy in Riyadh or Consulate General Pakistan, as they could contact the PIA call centre, PIA booking offices and the airline’s website and the travel agents concerned for ticket purchase.

If passengers are overcharged, they could contact Pakistan Embassy in Riyadh and give the contact number of the PIA officials. However, passengers travelling by the PIA complained that they were being overcharged for the special flights. Muhammad Hakeem Ajmal, head of Rimsha Travel Agency, said that in routine, one passenger’s return ticket costs only Rs75,000. However, now the PIA was charging a passenger Rs81,884 for one way travel.

A PIA spokesperson Ather Awan, however, admitted an increase in fare. He said: “All flights between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are special flights, because Saudi Arabia had denied entry of passengers after the coronavirus pandemic outbreak.

“Planes fly without any passengers from Pakistan. To meet expenditures of fuel, the PIA makes it economically viable and fares are slightly high,” he said. According to him, the PIA was following the standard operation procedures (SOPs) for air passengers. He said that on Boeing 777, at least 393 passengers can travel, but now only 240 passengers can travel under the set SOPs.

Khwaja Muhammad Ayub Nasim, a spokesperson for the Travel Agents Association Pakistan, said that the PIA was exploiting the situation by charging higher fares. He said special flights, which are called ‘relief flights’ by the government authorities, are overcharging passengers instead of giving them any concession.

However, a spokesperson said that the PIA had publicly announced the standard fares from both the countries. And, it was further announcing that tickets are available from IATA agents, the PIA app and website as well as from the PIA offices in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In case there are instances of overcharging, it may be immediately reported to the Pakistani missions, the PIA country managers, or at khidwpk@piac.aero.

Meanwhile, the PIA has decided to operate two flights to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on June 17. The PIA is continuing its relief flights to bring back stranded Pakistanis as well as taking the foreign nationals back to their countries.

Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan and Pakistan's Ambassador in Kyrgyzstan Sardar Azhar Tariq Khan played a key role for grant of permission to the PIA for flights to Bishkek. The PIA will operate two flights to Bishkek from Islamabad, the one way fare will be US$450, inclusive of all taxes.

A PIA spokesman said that passengers willing to travel from Bishkek are requested to contact Pakistan Embassy in Bishkek, while passengers willing to travel from Islamabad could reserve their tickets through the PIA booking offices in Pakistan.

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