PIA halts flight operations from Karachi

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Karachi, April 6 (IANS) The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has suspended its flight operations from Karachi in view of the Sindh governments “forcible” quarantining of its pilots over fear that they might be coronavirus carriers, a media report said.

On Saturday, the flag carrier operated two special flights carrying nearly 600 British passengers to Manchester and London, said The Express Tribune report on Sunday.
The flights left Pakistan as pressure built on British authorities to repatriate vulnerable citizens that were stuck in Pakistan as the government had banned international commercial flights for the period of March 21 to April 4.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the airline clarified its views on quarantining its aviation staff in Karachi.
“The PIA is strictly abiding by the instructions issued by the government,” its spokesperson said.
“The instructions include measures related to disinfecting the airplane as well as the crew’s health and safety,” the spokesperson added, noting that the federal government’s instructions were being followed at all airports in the country.
Referring to the quarantining of PIA pilots, he said that the incident that took place at Karachi airport was “contrary to the directives issued by the government of Pakistan for aviation staff” and added that all the officials concerned were informed three hours prior the plane returned from London.
“However, despite instructions, the Sindh health department’s officials insisted on forcefully quarantining the pilots,” The Express Tribune quoted the spokesperson as saying.
The Pakistan Airlines Pilots’ Association has also restrained its pilots from flying aircraft citing inadequate security arrangements for the staff in the wake of coronavirus pandemic and quarantining of crew.