PIA gets approval to operate direct repatriation flights to US

This is the first time the flag carrier's been allowed to enter the US directly

​ Our Correspondent April 30, 2020
Owing to thousands of citizens being stranded across the globe in the wake of the pandemic, the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has for the first time in history been granted the permission to operate direct flights to the US, without having to stop for a security clearance.

A communique issued by the US Department of Transportation allowed the PIA to operate 12 flights in a month.

Previously, the flag carrier's flights had to pass through security checks at airports in Europe and Britain before entering the United States - owing to the latter's security regulations. This is the first time that it has been allowed to enter the US directly.

PIA Chief Executive Officer Air Marshal Arshad Malik had written to the US transport department regarding the matter last week.

Besides bringing back citizens, the PIA flights would also transport bodies of those who died away from home free of charge.

The PIA spokesperson hailed the permission as a reflection of the  country's improved security situation, the government's policies and the safety and security measures undertaken by the flag carrier.

The PIA CEO thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan for his efforts to ensure the stranded nationals were repatriated. He also expressed his gratitude to the ministers of interior and aviation.

On April 27, The Express Tribune was told that the Pakistan International Airlines had worked out an extraordinary special flights operation to bring back 20,000 stranded Pakistanis from around the world within a fortnight.

Under its special mission, the sources said, the national flag carrier would operate 103 flights to repatriate the stranded Pakistanis from the UK, UAE, France, Germany, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Muscat, Malaysia and Oslo by May 9.