RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has permitted Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to operate 21 additional flights this month, the national flag-carrier said on Thursday. in a statement
PIA Chief Executive Officer Air Marshal Arshad Malik a day earlier informed Prime Minister Imran Khan that many Pakistanis were scrambling to fly back to the Kingdom as their resident permits, or iqamas, would expire on September 30, but there were not enough flights.
“PIA is [now] allowed to operate more flights exclusively after using high-level diplomatic contacts,” the statement said.
“With the involvement of the Prime Minister, 21 more flights have been added to the PIA flight operations, bringing the capacity to fly 25,500 passengers,” it said.
All nationals would be able to return to their homes and workplaces in Saudi Arabia before September 30, the statement said, adding, “PIA has already requested Saudi officials to double its flights for the month of October.”
PIA currently operates 23 weekly flights to Saudi Arabia with a capacity to carry 12,000 passengers.
A day earlier, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Zulfiqar Bukhari had discussed with the Kingdom’s deputy labor minister, Abdullah bin Nasser Abuthnain, the possibility of increasing the frequency of flights to the kingdom to allow more Pakistanis to return to their workplaces and homes on time.
Saudi Arabia is home to over 3 million Pakistani expatriates.