Flight operations worldwide reached a standstill after the novel coronavirus created havoc and spread rapidly in the world. Part of the lockdown and social isolation measures was to close down airspace and ban land, sea, and air travels entirely. However, starting in July, a significant reduction in the COVID-19 infection rates was noticed. Therefore, from August, many countries have relaxed their travel bans and opening spaces for foreign travels. Pakistan has also resumed international flights. If you plan to travel to Pakistan or need to return to the UK, here are all the updates on flight resumptions and travel guidelines.
From August 9, 2020, Pakistan announced to allow all domestic and international travel across the country. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) officials noted that flight operations to-and-from all airports in Pakistan would allow local and international flights. The decision was taken after the country observed a sharp decline in the coronavirus cases.
According to the CAA's official notification, Pakistan has allowed all domestic and foreign flight operators to follow the Pre-COVID-19 Summer Schedule 2020 for flights. This rule will apply to all special flight operations and cargos.
The government of Pakistan suspended all domestic and international flight operations in March after the coronavirus outbreak. However, from May onwards, the number of cases started to decline, given the government's proactive involvement and introduction of productive measures such as a smart lockdown.
The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) claims that coronavirus cases are continually declining in Pakistan. On August 22, 2020, the country reported just 591 new cases, whereas the number of deaths from the virus has lowered considerably since July. As per the latest statistics, the average daily deaths from the COVID-19 virus are less than five in Pakistan. Currently, total active cases in the country are 10,964, while 275,836 patients have recovered.
The Pakistan government pledges to conduct air operations under the internationally established guidelines and PCAA's instructed SOPs. The Aviation Ministry stated that all operators would have to get their schedule approved by the competent authority beforehand. Special flights, cargos, and private aircraft operations will also be subject to compliance with the relevant SOPs.
For domestic/international passenger flights and chartered flight operations, it will be necessary to disinfect the aircraft before boarding. There'll be one seat left vacant between passengers. Face masks will be compulsory for passengers, aircraft crew, and all on board the plane at all times and the use of hand sanitizer will be mandatory. Moreover, the cargo crew will be responsible for disinfecting luggage before loading it onto the aircraft as well as after it arrives at the destination airport.
The CAA also noted that food and beverages would be allowed only during domestic flights. All airlines will have to maintain emergency PPE in the aircraft to deal with health emergencies during flight promptly. Moreover, all passengers will need to fill a health declaration before boarding the plane. This form will include passenger details, travel history during the last two weeks, the passenger's health status, and an undertaking to conform with the SOPs.
Also, thermal scanning will be mandatory for all the passengers, both on the departure and arrival destination. If raised body temperatures is noted or symptoms of COVID-19 are apparent, the passenger will be examined by a health professional. The needful steps will be determined as per the advice of the health professional.
Social distancing will be observed at every stage of arrival and departure formalities. Meet and greet at the airport will be strictly prohibited, and drivers will not leave the vehicle at any time.
All international flight operations are now allowed to operate in Pakistan. British Airways is now offering direct flights to-and-from Pakistan, so if you are stuck in Pakistan due to lockdown, now is the time to book your flight and return to the UK. Moreover, other prominent airlines, including Etihad Airways, Gulf Air, Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Turkish Airlines, have already resumed indirect, regular flights to the UK via Pakistan. However, some airlines may require passengers to show recently done coronavirus test results before booking the ticket or boarding the plane. You can contact us to understand the requirements of your chosen airlines. Please note that there aren't any UK-arranged charter flights available from Pakistan currently, and only commercial flight operations have been resumed.
As per the Pakistan Aviation Ministry's directives, travelers need to arrange their own transport to the airport because there are limitations on public transport in the country. Remember that a limited number of people are allowed to travel in a vehicle. Ensure that all the passengers traveling to the airport, except for the driver, should have a flight ticket. Unauthorized people are not allowed to accompany travelers inside the airport. Always carry a printed as well as a digital copy of your flight confirmation and visa.
If the area of your residence is still observing lockdown, you should not book your flight until the authorities lift the lockdown. You can contact us to know when you can book your flight. Or else, contact the relevant local authorities before deciding to travel.
We suggest that you not travel to the airport if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, including registering very high temperatures. It is important to stay where you are residing because thermal scanning is compulsory for all the passengers at the airport. If the authorities note that you have a high temperature or are showing other coronavirus signs, your flight will be canceled, and you will be requested to self-isolate for two weeks. You may be moved to some medical facility.
If you need medical help, call the British High Commission. You may contact Pakistan' coronavirus helpline at 1166. It is established to help people experiencing coronavirus symptoms or those suspecting that they have contracted the virus. If you need medication or health care support, contact your travel insurer, consult a local doctor, or seek advice from your doctor in the UK.