ISLAMABAD: On Wednesday, the Government allowed to operate one additional flight daily on the Karachi-Islamabad-Karachi route until the end of the current month, taking into account the increased passenger load as the restricted domestic flight operations resumed after nearly 56 days of suspension on May 16.
“In view of the increased passenger load, one daily flight Karachi-Islamabad-Karachi has been added. The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will fly on four days, while Serene Air will operate this extra flight three days a week. This extra flight will continue till the end of May,” a spokesman for the Aviation Division said in a brief statement.
Last Friday, Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had formally announced that he would partially restore Saturday flight operations at five major airports across the country, including Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi, Quetta, and Peshawar.
Originally, Sarwar said that under some Standard Operating Procedures ( SOPs), approximately 20 percent of total pre-coronavirus flights will be run, including screening of each passenger with thermal weapons, ensuring wearing face masks and gloves.
Thereafter, a smooth domestic flight operations under effective anti-coronavirus (COVID-19) SOPs are in progress.
The Aviation Division has taken elaborate safety measures to ensure that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Serene Air operate at the designated airports to maintain social distance during flights.
In addition, banner stands were placed in the airport lounges under a wide awareness drive to educate passengers about the importance of social distancing, handwashing with soap and the use of hand sanitizers, wearing masks and gloves to tackle the virus threat, according to recent video clips and images shared by the Aviation Division.
“Baggage is disinfected upon arrival and passengers are not allowed to collect their luggage on their own from the belt. Social distancing is maintained at every stage in strict compliance of the SOPs,” the spokesman said in a recent statement.
The two airlines operated their 50 percent seat occupancy flights in order to maintain the required social distance between passengers during the air travel.
Under the SOPs, the Aviation Division made aircraft disinfection mandatory prior to passenger boarding, ensuring at least one empty seat space between passengers, wearing face masks, and using the flight operations hand sanitizer. In addition, no food and drinks are allowed during flights.
The airlines also keep personal emergency protection equipment in each aircraft to deal with any health emergency during flights. When each passenger fills out a health declaration form prior to boarding the aircraft, which includes passenger identity, brief travel history over the past two weeks, the current state of health, and an undertaking to comply with the SOPs.
The air passengers undergo thermal screening at the airports as they arrive and depart. “Anyone with raised body temperature on visible symptoms of COVID-19 is examined by a health professional and required action, if any, is taken as per the advice of the health professional.”
No meeting or greeting is permitted at the airports and drivers stay in the parking lot inside their vehicles because no protocol is allowed beyond the briefing area.
“Social distance is maintained at every stage of departure and arrival formalities. The luggage is disinfected prior to loading onto the aircraft and after arrival disinfected at the airport,” as per the SOPs.