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Pakistan’s domestic flights to remain grounded till 11th April

ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to keep domestic flights suspended till April 11 to curb the spread of coronavirus infections. However, flights between the Islamabad airport and Gilgit and Skardu will carry on as usual.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Aviation Division spokesperson Abdul Sattar Khokhar said the government had decided to extend the suspension of all types of domestic scheduled, non-scheduled, chartered, private aircraft and general aviation operations till April 11. Cargo and special flights will be exempted from the restriction.

The government had suspended domestic flights from March 26 to April 2 over the viral outbreak. However, flights between the Islamabad airport and Gilgit and Skardu were exempted from the suspension.

Separately, the government has permitted the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to partially resume its international flight operations to help repatriate citizens stranded abroad.

In the first stage of operations, the PIA will bring back a limited number of Pakistani travellers, a spokesperson for the national flag carrier announced in a statement.

The PIA will fly stranded passengers from Canada and the UK who were meant to travel to Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

Limited flights from Toronto will resume on April 3. Operations from the UK will resume on April 4.

All repatriation flights will initially land at the Islamabad airport, the spokesperson said.

Once the flights land, all passengers will be tested at airport lounges and transferred to a hotel for six hours.

The passengers who test negative for Covid-19 will be allowed to proceed home. The others will be kept in quarantine.

All flights will be regularly disinfected and the PIA will take all protocols to ensure its crew’s safety very seriously, the spokesperson said.

The CAA has issued a 21-point travel advisory for all airlines in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Airlines should disinfect the planes before staring the boarding process.

The airlines will ensure that all passengers fill a mandatory-health declaration form provided

to them by the government. The CAA told the airlines to ensure that the form was available on their social media platforms and websites.

Passengers and crew members would be bound to use surgical masks while travelling to prevent the transmission of the virus.

Passengers will have to go through a screening and health examination process at the airport. During the flight, passengers will not be allowed to change their seats. The cabin crew will provide passengers with hand sanitisers after every 30 minutes.

Meals will only be provided in flights lasting over two and a half hours while the cabin crew will send photos of all passengers on the flight before take-off.

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