KARACHI: Pakistan’s national carrier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), on Tuesday got permission from the United Kingdom to operate five additional flights to Britain ahead of April 09 when it will ban the entry of people arriving from four countries, including Pakistan.
From 4 a.m. on April 9, Pakistan, Kenya, the Philippines and Bangladesh will be put on a red list, the UK government said on Friday, joining about three dozen other nations mainly in Africa, the Middle East and South America.
“To meet the demand we have just added two more flights for UK,” the PIA spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday night, adding that the two flights were in addition to three additional flights announced in the morning of Tuesday.
“New flights will go to Manchester on April 08,” PIA said. “With these additional five flights, total number of special flights will be eight.”
The spokesperson said PIA booking offices would remain open 24 hours.
“People are desperately trying to go back to the UK before April 9,” PIA spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez Khan told Arab News on Monday.
British Pakistanis form one of the largest expat communities in the UK. Days before the start of Ramadan, when many British Pakistanis travel to be with their families for the holy month and Eid, travelers from Pakistan have been told they will be denied entry and have to pay for expensive 10-day UK hotel quarantine at designated sites.
Pakistan’s planning minister, Asad Umar, last week said the UK government’s decision to ban the entry of Pakistanis was based on politics, not science.
“Every country has a right to take decisions to safeguard the health of their citizens,” Umar said. “However, the recent decision by UK government to add some countries including Pakistan on the red list raises legitimate questions whether choice of countries is based on science or foreign policy.”