16th April 2020   •   article
The UK plans to charter PIA flights to bring back Britons stuck in Pakistan

Image: PIA - Facebook
The British High Commission in Pakistan plans to charter a series of flights to get stranded Britons back home, it announced last night.

Thousands of Britons are still stranded in Pakistan despite the British government’s promise to get them back home.

The Pakistani government suspended all international flights due to the coronavirus on March 21. Only the national carrier, Pakistan international Airlines (PIA), was able to run some flights and that too amid chaotic circumstances.

Labour MP Naz Shah wrote to the Foreign Office Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad calling for "urgent action to be taken in the form of chartered flights to repatriate constituents stranded in Pakistan.”

She tweeted yesterday that she was, "pleased to hear this is exactly what will take place."

Many Britons feel their plight wasn’t being heard or addressed by the Foreign Office or the British High Commission. Pressure by Naz Shah MP has pushed the UK government to act faster.

The British High Commisioner in Pakistan, Christian Turner, said in a video yesterday that they were working to get chartered flights running within this week .

He revealed that 7,758 passengers had left for the UK from Pakistan on 22 flights over 9 days since the 4th of April.

He added: "We know the frustrations some of you have had with PIA including industrial action and cancellations as well as costs. We’ve worked hard with PIA to address these issues and to offer financial assistance to those who genuinely need it. PIA told us yesterday that they now would no longer fly daily to the UK."

"So Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has agreed that we can now order a series of chartered flights to get more Britons back home. These flights will be fare paying and will take some time, probably the rest of this week to set up. We’ll update you by the end of this week on the charter process, how much the flights would cost, the financial support available and the details of airport locations and numbers."

"That’ll all be on our travel advise and social media pages so please do subscribe to them if you haven’t already done so."

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Sadia Humayun is a freelance journalist and writer
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