PIA cancels flights to Saudi Arabia after Kingdom bans int’l travel over coronavirus
The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Monday cancelled all flights to and from Saudi Arabia following the suspension of all international flights by General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) after the spread of a new strain of COVID-19, ARY News reported on Monday.
The cancelled flights of PIA include PK-9739 and PK-9739 from Multan-Jeddah-Lahore, many other flights i.e. Lahore-Jeddah-Lahore, Islamabad-Dammam-Islamabad, Lahore-Dammam-Lahore, Karachi-Madinah and Madinah-Karachi, Lahore-Madinah, Madinah-Multan and Madinah-Multan, Karachi-Jeddah-Karachi.
The spokesperson added that the flights will remain suspended till the further orders of the Saudi Arabian aviation authority. After getting permission by GACA, the passengers will be adjusted into flights, he added.
The PIA administration advised passengers to register themselves through the airline’s call centre (111-786-786) with their accurate contact numbers in order to get timely updates.
The kingdom is "temporarily suspending all international flights -- except in exceptional cases -- for a period of one week, which can be extended by another week," the official Saudi Press Agency said. "Entry to the kingdom through land and seaports will also be suspended for a week, which can be extended by another week," SPA added, citing the interior ministry.
The suspension does not apply to international aircraft currently in the kingdom, which will be allowed to leave, SPA said.
The development comes after several European countries banned travel from Britain on Sunday as the UK government warned that a highly infectious new strain of the virus was "out of control".
SPA said passengers who arrived in Saudi Arabia from Europe -- or any country where the new strain was detected -- starting December 8 will be required to self isolate for two weeks, and undergo testing.
Neighbouring Kuwait also announced a ban on Sunday on passenger flights from Britain over the new strain of the virus.
Alarm bells are ringing across Europe -- which last week became the first region in the world to pass 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 -- after it appeared that a more infectious strain of the virus was raging in parts of Britain.
Last week, Saudi Arabia kicked off a three-phase Covid-19 vaccination programme, after the first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia has so far recorded more than 361,000 novel coronavirus cases, including more than 6,000 deaths –- the highest among the Gulf Arab states. But the kingdom has also reported a high recovery rate.