ISLAMABAD                 -           Pakistan will gradually resume international flight operations from April 5 while its airspace would remain closed for all other kinds of flights amid COVID-19 fears. 

Furthermore, the government has taken no decision to re-start operations of Pakistan Railways. On April 1 the one-week suspension period of its operations will expire.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Division Moeed Yusuf while briefing the media clarified that that some reports coming from the social and traditional media were innocent. Especially those that claimed Pakistan would be open for all kinds of normal flights after April 4 deadline of suspension of international air traffic would expire. “We are keenly deliberating this issue. Our domestic flights are also closed and would remain closed till the next decision,” he said.

He informed reporters that when Pakistan would re-start its international flight operations from April 5, only a few flights would be resumed very slowly. “As long as passengers would come and our protocols would be strengthened, we’d take the future decision keeping in view the situation (of that time).”

On March 21, Pakistan had decided to suspend international flight operations for two weeks till April 4 to prevent further spread of coronavirus from international arrivals. The decision was taken by the National Coordination Committee chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan. The restriction applied to passengers of all charter and private flights. However, the state-owned Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) was allowed to bring back its planes which were already abroad.

The SAPM further said that some media reports were also misreporting that Pakistan Railways would resume its operations from April 1 as usual. “Government is working on many proposals and options with regard to every kind of transport including railways but no final decision has been made yet,” he added. He said that the government was daily updating the media about whatever decisions it was taking and advised them to not pay heed to speculations and only believe in news conveyed directly by the government.

About the Pakistani passengers stranded at foreign airports due to the decision of the government to close international flights, the SAPM claimed that no transit passenger of Pakistan was present at any international airport now. Either they have been brought back to the country or they have been properly accommodated in the foreign country after issuance of visas to them. He said all Pakistanis stranded in Thailand have also been brought back and all have been tested negative for COVID-19.

Last week, Pakistan Railways has suspended operations of all its passenger trains for one week till March 31 (today).