Flying direct to US

With thousands of Pakistanis stranded abroad clamoring to return home

Editorial May 03, 2020
With the spread of the coronavirus having turned the world topsy-turvy, thousands of Pakistanis stranded abroad have been clamoring to return home. A large proportion of these Pakistanis have lost their jobs in the virus melee, with the result that their income steams have tapered off, leaving them ever more desperate to fly back home. For those caught up in the world’s biggest corona hotspot — the United States — a silver lining has emerged, though.

The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has for the first time in history been granted the permission to operate direct flights to the United States, without having to stop for a security clearance. A communique issued by the US Department of Transportation allowed our very own PIA to operate 12 flights in a month. This permission is billed to go a long way in mitigating the miseries of Pakistanis frantically looking to evacuate from a land they long cherished but has now become a corpse-strewn hell-hole. Their evacuation must entail a flight operation of unprecedented size and scope. The permission to fly direct to the United States will certainly make matters easier for the national flag carrier.

Previously, the PIA 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. PIA Chief Executive Officer Air Marshal Arshad Malik had written to the US transport department regarding the matter last week, to a favourable reply. Besides bringing back citizens, the PIA flights would also transport bodies, free of charge, of those who died away from home. A PIA spokesperson has rightly 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. 

Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2020.

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