ISLAMABAD    -   Saudi Arabia has not imposed any Pakistan-specific restriction on travel, the Foreign Office said yesterday.

FO spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said that Saudi Arabia had lifted restrictions on travel to and from Saudi Arabia for all those people who possess valid visas - Exit / Entry, Residence or Iqama and Visit. “However, travel is subject to negative PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test, not later than 48 hours before arriving Saudi Arabia. There is no Pakistan-specific restriction on travel,” he said in a statement.

This week, the Saudi authorities had allowed Pakistan International Airlines to operate 21 more flights to the Kingdom at the request of the Pakistan government.

Earlier, PIA Chief Executive Officer Arshad Malik had informed Prime Minister Imran Khan about the increasing number of passengers and problems being faced by Pakistanis travelling to Saudi Arabia due to limited flight operations. He had requested the PM to resolve flights issue by discussing the matter with Saudi authorities.

Keeping in view the ongoing dilemma, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari had made contact with Saudi Human Resource vice-minister Dr Abdullah bin Nasser via video-link in which he appealed to the ministry to increase the number of flights to allay the grievances of the people intending to go back to work. The SAPM had also requested to extend visas of Pakistani expatriates up to October 30.

Later, the Saudi government allowed PIA to operate more flights for Saudi Arabia. With the addition of 21 more flights in the system, the national flag carrier passenger capacity has increased to 25,500. All increased flights will leave for Saudi Arabia before September 31.

The national flag carrier had cut back on its Pak-Saudi flights with operating just 23 flights to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in a week because of travel restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

FO spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said there were 75 PIA flights per week - Jeddah 42, Riyadh 13, Madinah 12 and Dammam 8 -  which were reduced to 22 - Jeddah 7, Riyadh 7, Madinah 4 and Dammam 4 -  during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Due to the limited number of PIA flights, most of Pakistani nationals were facing difficulty to reach Saudi Arabia, who possessed valid visas for Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“The matter is also under consideration of Saudi Authorities for more additional flights from 1st October to 30 October 2020. Currently, with the additional PIA flights, Pakistanis are travelling to Saudi Arabia without any difficulty,” he saidin a statement.

This week, the Saudi authorities had allowed Pakistan International Airlines to operate 21 more flights to the Kingdom at the request of the Pakistan government. Earlier, PIA Chief Executive Officer Arshad Malik had informed Prime Minister Imran Khan about the increasing number of passengers and problems being faced by Pakistanis travelling to Saudi Arabia due to limited flight operations. He had requested the PM to resolve flights issue by discussing the matter with Saudi authorities. Keeping in view the ongoing dilemma, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari had made contact with Saudi Human Resource vice-minister Dr Abdullah bin Nasser via video-link in which he appealed to the ministry to increase the number of flights to allay the grievances of the people intending to go back to work. The SAPM had also requested to extend visas of Pakistani expatriates up to October 30.

Later, the Saudi government allowed PIA to operate more flights for Saudi Arabia. With the addition of 21 more flights in the system, the national flag carrier passenger capacity has increased to 25,500. All increased flights will leave for Saudi Arabia before September 31.