PIA halts Damascus flights after Israel’s attack

ISLAMABAD – A spokesman for the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Saturday said the flight operations of the national flag carrier to and from Damascus had been suspended after the Israeli forces resorted to bombardment at the Syrian capital’s airport the other day.

“Both runways are inactive due to bombing at the Damascus airport that led to complete suspension of (flight) operations there,” Spokesman Abdullah Hafeez Khand said in a news release here. Following this, he said, the PIA had to cancel the flight PK-135 from Karachi to Damascus that was scheduled to take off on Friday morning carrying 170 passengers.

Similarly, he said, a flight PK-136 was due to bring 169 passengers from Damascus; however, the flights were cancelled due to the runways being completely inactive.

The spokesman regretted the inconvenience faced by the passengers, explaining that the flight’s cancellation was unavoidable due to the confronted operational issues.

Bilawal directs Pakistan Embassy in Syria to help stranded Pakistanis

He said the flights would be rescheduled as soon as the runways were restored; otherwise, the passengers would be transported through alternative means. Accordingly, he said, all passengers were being informed through PIA’s call centre. Also, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Saturday directed the Pakistan Embassy in Syria to immediately make arrangements for the return of stranded Pakistanis.

According to the ministry, the foreign minister issued these directives in the wake of suspension of flight operations due to Israeli air strikes. At least 160 Pakistanis pilgrims who had gone to Syria were stranded after the flight operations were suspended.

Bilawal directed Pakistan Embassy in Damascus to make immediate arrangement for return of Pakistani Pilgrims to the country.  The embassy has established contact with Pakistanis and arrangements are being made for their return to Pakistan, an official claimed.

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