RAWALPINDI: About 140 Pakistanis stuck at airports in Gulf countries were flown aboard special flights to Islamabad on Tuesday as the federal government granted permission to Fly Dubai and Qatar Airways to send flights to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha airports for the purpose.
To contain the spread of coronavirus within the country, the government has suspended flight operations of all international airlines, chartered and private flights to Pakistan from March 21 until April 4.
Spokesman for Aviation Division Abdul Sattar Khokhar said in a statement that Fly Dubai’s special flight brought back 101 passengers from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and Qatar Airways’ special flight from Doha brought back 39 passengers.
The two airlines’ aircraft landed at the Islamabad International Airport with the passengers on Tuesday morning.
The spokesman said all those brought to Islamabad by special flights were transit passengers who became stranded en route to Pakistan due to the suspension of international flight operations by Pakistani authorities.
“All in-transit Pakistani passengers have been brought to Islamabad and nobody has been left behind,” said the Aviation Division.
According to the statement, none of the passengers showed symptoms of the coronavirus infection when scanned by the health department upon their arrival. However, a Covid-19 screening test called RT PCR was carried out on all the passengers and sent to a laboratory for testing, it stated further.
The Aviation Division also said that proactive, comprehensive and coordinated steps continue to be taken to curtail the spread of Covid-19, “with a view to ensuring safety and security of our nationals and people travelling to and from Pakistan”.
Diplomats, special and cargo aircraft have been exempted from restrictions. However, they will be subjected to appropriate health screenings on arrival. They can also be isolated or quarantined as per the advice of health professionals.