The aviation authority of Saudi Arabia has allowed the PIA Pakistan International Airlines to operate special flight in order to bring the stranded Pakistanis back in the country. Since hundreds of Pakistanis are stuck in Mecca and Medina due to the suspension of flights, it is extremely crucial to bring them back. It is believed that the Saudi Authorities have permitted the PIA to pick the passengers from the kingdom on the personal efforts of the Air Marshal Arshad Malik, the incumbent CEO of PIA.
Earlier, Saudi Arabia had imposed a ban on all the flights operating to and from the kingdom as the coronavirus was spreading like wildfire. It asked its residents living in other countries to return to the kingdom in 72 hours. Similarly, it also ordered all the foreigners living in the kingdom to vacate the country in 72 hours, i.e. till 14 March, because no flights would operate after 72-hour time period.
Goodwill Gesture By Saudi Arabia:
However, it now seems that Saudi Arabia has shown some flexibility as it has allowed PIA to run special flights for stranded Pakistanis in the kingdom till 18 March. The CEO of PIA Air Marshal Arshad Malik had personally asked the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) to permit PIA for resuming the flight operations as hundreds of Pakistani citizens were stranded there. Here, it is worth noting that this generosity has been extended only for Pakistan and the flights of all the other countries can still not operate to Saudi Arabia.
Following the permission, the empty planes of PIA will land at Medina and Jeddah Airports. Subsequently, these flights will repatriate the stranded Umrah pilgrims to Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad. It is also believed that the PIA flights will also bring back over 1,800 Pakistani nationals from the kingdom.
The Remarks Of Passengers:
Previously, the national flag carrier of Pakistan had operated about 22 flights to transport more than 6,000 nationals after the announcement of the 72-hour deadline. Similarly, on March 13, the stranded Pakistani pilgrims asked the government to assist them in the repatriation as they were stuck in Saudi Arabia amid coronavirus fears. The pilgrims also told the media that neither they had money to buy the tickets of other airlines nor they could afford to pay the rent of the hotels. They also lamented that despite the announcement of 72-hour deadline, the government made no special arrangements for the stranded nationals.