ISLAMABAD: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has received permission from Saudi authorities to operate additional flights between the two countries, PIA said on Monday.
The announcement came days after the kingdom lifted an entry ban on expats from six countries that was introduced to curb the spread of COVID-19. A Saudi ban on direct travel from Pakistan and several other countries came to an end on December 01 as the kingdom continues to relax travel restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Saudi Arabia suspended all flights to and from the kingdom on March 14, 2020, after the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic. Entry to the kingdom by air, land and sea resumed on January 3, 2021, though a direct entry ban was imposed on certain countries including Pakistan of concern the following month.
“PIA got permission for additional flights with the help of [Pakistan’s] ambassador to Saudi Arabia Bilal Akbar,” PIA said in a statement “In light of PIA CEO [Chief Executive Officer] instructions, airline has increased its weekly flights from 33 to 48.”
“PIA will now operate 48 weekly flights from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia,” the statement said. “These include 8 flights to Dammam, 8 to Madinah, 9 to Riyadh and 23 to Jeddah.”
PIA said the purpose of increasing the number of flights is to get more Pakistanis back to their workplaces in the kingdom after the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
“PIA has always been at the forefront of meeting the travel needs of Pakistanis,” CEO Arshad Malik said. “If need be we will get permission for more flights from the Saudi government.”