ISLAMABAD: A special Saudi Airlines flight that departed from Jeddah with 226 Pakistani Umrah pilgrim in the morning arrived in Multan on Saturday.
The flight was previously scheduled to take off on Thursday, but it was postponed by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for administrative reasons.
Thousands of Pakistani nationals were visiting the Kingdom to perform their pilgrimage when the coronavirus pandemic forced countries around the world to suspend international air travel and announce strict lockdowns.
While the pilgrims discontinued their journey to Islam’s holiest cities of Makkah and Madinah, not all of them could fly back to their country before the lockdown was imposed due to air traffic congestion and had to prolong their stay in the Arab state.
Pakistan’s Consul General in Jeddah Khalid Majid and Deputy Consul General Shaiq Ahmed Bhutto were present at the airport to interact with the pilgrims before the flight departed.
A special Saudi Airlines flight brought back 223 Pakistani pilgrims to Lahore on Wednesday. According to an official handout circulated by the country’s diplomatic mission in Saudi Arabia, about 470 Pakistani Umrah pilgrims have now returned to their country through these two special Saudi Airlines flights.
Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Raja Ali Ejaz, and its consul general in Jeddah conveyed sincere gratitude of their government to the top Saudi authorities for extending special hospitality and treatment to the Pakistani pilgrims.
They particularly appreciated the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for making suitable boarding, lodging and medical arrangements during the prolonged stay of the Pakistani nationals in the Kingdom.
According to the federal government, hundreds of Pakistanis are still stranded in different parts of the world and the authorities are striving to bring them by operating special flights.
The country’s senior officials also informed Arab News on Wednesday that the returning Pakistanis will not only be screened for COVID-19 but also quarantined for a week to prevent the spread of coronavirus.