PIA repatriates over 100,000 passengers in 72 days
National flag carrier spokesperson says repatriation flights will continue
With the special repatriation flight lifting off from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan carrying 142 stranded Pakistani students, the total number of people uplifted by PIA since April 4, 2020 reached an unprecedented 100,000 level.
This is the largest repatriation operation ever under taken in this history of the country, the Spokesperson of the national flag carrier said.
Since the suspension of flight operation in March 2020, hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis got stranded which created one of the most critical humanitarian crises especially in wake of global economic shut down. The worst affected areas still are Gulf and Middle East countries which have the largest number of expat population. The pressure was immense due to sheer number of expat population struggling to get back and limited capability within the country for hundred percent screening of all incoming passengers.
“From April 4 till June 15, PIA has operated 715 flights carrying 99,931 passengers to get to their homes. PK9252 operating out of Bishkek raised the total tally over 100,000 passengers in a period spanning over 72 days. This is a historic first for the national flag carrier in the service of the nation. PIA aircraft bearing the national flag made historic first touch downs to a number of new destinations, operating directly to USA Mainland, Australia, Africa, Far Eastern and Central Asian Republics,” said the spokesperson.
These touch downs were documented by a number of plane spotter enthusiasts making videos and taking pictures from the edge of the runways and were released to the social media and vehemently cheered by fans with national fervour.
PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez Khan added that the series of repatriation flights would continue at the behest of the government as long as there was a need and all fellow stranded citizens repatriated to their homes.
On the subject of flights commencing from Pakistan, the spokesperson said those are dependent on travel restrictions of respective countries and PIA has to adhere by those regulations.
He said: “Despite having limited capability earlier on, it has now significantly increased with the government easing the restrictions for all incoming passengers. Previously with travel restrictions, limited quota and most flights being operated one way empty, the cost of operations were too high for all the airliners, hence the government directed the national flag carrier PIA, to undertake this mammoth task, while regulating the fares.”
Abdullah Hafeez said that the task was also critical because of the fact that hundreds of Pakistani were also left deserted at different transits hubs in Europe and Far East, along with numerous human remains of Pakistani or dual citizens needed to be brought back to the homeland for burial.