Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERS

Aviation sector faces Rs10b loss due to pandemic in Pakistan

Division submits report to PM Imran Khan on losses incurred by PIA, CAA

Waqas Ahmed March 19, 2020
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s aviation sector has witnessed over Rs10 billion losses only in this month due to lockdown and travel restrictions imposed by various countries in view of the novel coronavirus – COVID-19 – pandemic.

According to a report sent to Prime Minister Imran Khan by the Aviation Division, the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) – the national flag carrier – has so far witnessed a loss of over Rs7 billion while the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has suffered a loss of Rs3.5 billion since beginning of March.

The CAA is a public sector autonomous body under the Aviation Division. It oversees and regulates all aspects of civil aviation in Pakistan. The report said 28 weekly flights to the United Arab Emirates and five weekly flights to Canada have been suspended due to the pandemic.

Two weekly flights to Italy, Japan, China, Kuwait and Malaysia have also been suspended. Four weekly flights to Qatar and 60 weekly flights to Saudi Arabia are also being suspended.

These flights are likely to remain suspended till March 31 and the Aviation Division apprehends more loss due to this continued closure of flight operations.

Meanwhile the Aviation Division’s spokesperson on Wednesday said it is all set to resume the international flight operations, suspended at Multan, Peshawar, Sialkot, Quetta and Faisalabad, from March 21 after making elaborate coronavirus screening measures there.

“The international flight operation will revert to the original airports, except Gwadar and Turbat, on March 21, 2020 at 0001 hours UTC (0501hours PST),” the spokesman said in a press release.

On March 14, the CAA suspended international flight operations from and to Multan, Peshawar, Sialkot, Quetta and Faisalabad airports as part of safety measures against the coronavirus, restricting international traffic to Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.

Now, the spokesman said, the flight operations are being resumed at the airports after installing better equipment for proper screening of international passengers there.

“All aircraft are required to be disinfected as per the best industry practices prior to embarkation of passengers at the point of origin. The airline shall be required to submit a certificate in this regard to the CAA, failing which the aircraft shall be denied entry into Pakistan,” the spokesman said.

This condition would also be applicable for domestic flights, he added.
He said all passengers travelling to Pakistan would be required to provide a certified copy of the test result for COVID-19 through RT-PCR conducted during the 24-hour period prior to boarding the flight.

“The test result must include the name and passport number of the passenger. Entry within Pakistan territorial limits shall not be allowed without the authentic RT-PCR negative test result for coronavirus.

The condition will remain in place till 4th April, 0001 hours UTC (0501 hours PST).”

The spokesman said boarding of all passengers at domestic flights would also be subject to the screening in the wake of coronavirus.

“This mandatory screening at domestic departures shall be enforced from March 21, at 0001 hours UTC (0501 hours PST) with the help of respective federal and/ or provincial health authorities.  This step has been taken to ensure that necessary steps are in place to control the spread of coronavirus,” he said.

(With additional input from APP.)


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