Pakistan’s PIA resumes flights to Saudi Arabia

PIA Pakistan International Airlines

The PIA on Sunday said it was resuming flights to Saudi Arabia after the Gulf country announced the reopening of borders and resumption of international flights following a two-week suspension aimed to curb the spread of a new Covid-19 strain.

A spokesperson for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) said that passengers would be able to travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from today (Sunday) after a notification was issued by the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation allowing the resumption of flight operations.

Previously, Pakistanis were only allowed to return from the country.

“Passengers can contact the [PIA] call centre on 111 786 786 or visit the offices to activate old bookings or make new ones,” the PIA spokesperson said. He added that a Covid-19 PCR test would be mandatory for all passengers before travel.

The Saudi Interior Ministry also said the government has ordered the lifting of “precautionary measures related to the spread of a new variant of coronavirus”, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Saudi Arabia has recorded more than 363,000 coronavirus cases, including over 6,200 deaths — the highest among the Gulf Arab states — but has also reported a high recovery rate.

Riyadh suspended international flights and access through land crossings and ports on December 21.

Other Gulf countries, Oman and Kuwait, who had taken similar measures, have also lifted them in recent days.

But travelers returning from Britain, South Africa or “any country where the new variant of the coronavirus is spreading” are subject to more restrictions, the statement added.

Foreigners coming from those countries must spend 14 days in another country before entering Saudi Arabia, and show a negative test.

Saudi nationals returning from those countries will be able to enter directly, but they must then spend two weeks in quarantine on arrival and be subject to tests.

Last month, Saudi Arabia was one of the first Gulf countries to start a massive vaccination campaign using the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.

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