Coronavirus Pandemic

UAE-Pakistan flights may be least affected by Covid restrictions: Sources

Muzaffar Rizvi/Dubai
Filed on May 1, 2021 | Last updated on May 1, 2021 at 07.19 am

NCOC proposes to reduce international flights by 80% from May 5 to May 20

The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority will hold an important meeting this week to discuss the National Command and Operation Centre's proposal to reduce the international flights by 80 per cent from May 5 to May 20 due to a surge in coronavirus cases.

The civil aviation regulator will convene the meeting in Islamabad on Tuesday to discuss the international flight operations and categories A, B and C with reference to third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The civil aviation secretary is likely to chair the meeting and to be attended by CAA officials and representatives of domestic and international airlines.

"The meeting is expected to endorse the NCOC's proposal to reduce international flight operations and may reshuffle the list of three categories to control traffic from the countries which are most impacted by the pandemic," according to the aviation sources.

"The meeting may hold the requests made by the foreign airlines to increase the number of flights to Pakistan ahead of Eid this month," they said.

NNI, a news wire, said an airline from the UAE has requested the highest number of flights to Pakistan. Some other countries such as Turkey, Hungary and the UK are also interested to increase flights to Pakistan and requested the CAA for permission.

Policy decisions this week

"The CAA will issue detailed instructions after the meeting. It may revise its policy on direct or indirect flights from certain countries. The UAE flights may be least affected due to better handling of the pandemic situation," the sources said.

The aviation regulator had previously worked with three categories, A, B and C. Category A includes countries with high levels of coronavirus cases from whom people could not travel to Pakistan. Passengers from category B countries had to have fresh negative PCR tests which were not older than 90 hours.

"The CAA is revising its policy on passenger flights and regularly reshuffle the lists of countries in three categories according to the latest developments on pandemic in the world. India, for example, was moved from category B to A due to alarming pandemic situation in the country. No one from India can travel to Pakistan," according to sources.

Pakistan is also currently battling a raging third wave of coronavirus infections. It has reported 4,696 new cass of the coronavirus in the last 24 hours as well as 146 casualties.

Latest data indicates that the country conducted 48,740 tests in the last 24 hours and found 9.63 per cent are infected with the virus.

According to an airline's senior official they have not received any notification from the CAA to reduce international flight operations from this week. However, the airline is ready to implement the CAA directive once it receives it, the official said.

New service on Dubai-Lahore

Serene Air, which started its international flight operations last month from Sharjah, is ready to expand its UAE operations with Dubai-Lahore flight from May 6.

"We are all set to expand our UAE operations despite the latest developments on international flight operations. I hope this week CAA meeting will not impact our operations," the airline's senior official told Khakeej Times on Saturday.

Pakistan's Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan on Friday held a meeting with CEOs and representatives of Pakistani carriers to discuss their international flight operations.

The senior executives of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), airblue, Airsial abd Serene Air attended the meeting and discussed' matters related to improving their international operations.

The minister assured the meeting participants that the government would evolve a consensus on latest development on aviation sector and promote the national airlines.

"All possible cooperation would be extended to the national airlines in tackling the challenges posed by the deadly coronavirus," the minister said.


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