LAHORE - The PIA will operate a ferry flight to Istanbul at the earliest to evacuate the Pakistanis stranded in the city, PIA Chairman Azam Saigol said.  The airline has approached the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for obtaining necessary approvals and permissions, the chairman said.

He added a Boeing-777 aircraft would be sent to Istanbul as soon as these formalities are completed.

The PIA doesn't fly to Turkey and has a code sharing arrangement with the Turkish Airways under which passengers can travel on PIA's ticket on Turkish Airways flights.

Spokesman for the airline said that the step was being taken on the directives of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.