ISLAMABAD: Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki said on Friday that all Pakistani Umrah pilgrims affected by the temporary travel ban to the Kingdom due to the threat of coronavirus would be compensated.
“Pakistani Umrah pilgrims who had to travel to Saudi Arabia during the dates of suspension will be compensated in the best possible way,” Al-Malki told Arab News on Friday. “They will be able to travel on the same visa or will be issued a fresh one free of charge.”
Saudi Arabia on Thursday placed a temporary ban on Umrah pilgrims in an attempt to ensure public safety and prevent the spread of coronavirus. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation also supported the Kingdom’s decision to protect its citizens from the epidemic.
“All those passengers who have Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) tickets will be able to get full refund from the PIA offices or their travel agents,” the national carrier’s spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez Khan told Arab News on the phone from Karachi, adding it was up to the passengers if they wanted to avail the refund option or get their seats readjusted after the ban.
Meanwhile, Saudi airlines also announced full refund of tickets through a circular which is available with Arab News.
“The Pakistani mission in Saudi Arabia is in touch with the Saudi authorities on this issue and will take all possible measures to facilitate Pakistani pilgrims,” spokesperson of the Pakistani embassy in Saudi Arabia Arshad Munir told Arab News on the phone from Jeddah.
Faizan Akhtar, a member of Pakistan’s Umrah Travel Agents’ Association told Arab News from Rawalpindi that the situation would become clear in the next few days, but all the passengers would get refunds or manage to travel on the same Umrah package after the ban.
“There was a previous incident of flight suspension during the Pak-India standoff last year which disturbed Umrah pilgrims. They were compensated by the Saudi authorities who extended their visas without extra charges and airlines adjusted their seats accordingly. We haven’t received any official communication on this so far, but the situation will become clear in the next few days,” Akhtar said.