PIA resumes flight operations to Saudi Arabia

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Sunday announced to resume flight operations to Saudi Arabia two weeks after the Kingdom closed its borders and suspended air traffic amid fears of a new coronavirus variant.

In a statement, Riyadh will resume entry to the Kingdom by sea land and air at midnight tonight.

A PIA spokesperson said passengers would be able to travel to the Kingdom from Sunday (today) after a notification was issued by the country General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) allowing the resumption of flight operations.

“Passengers can contact the [PIA] call centre on 111-786-786 or visit the offices to activate old bookings or make new ones,” the spokesperson said, adding that a coronavirus polymerise chain reaction (PCR) test would be mandatory for all passengers before travel.

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Saudi Arabia shut its borders on December 21 and suspended international commercial flights on a rolling weekly basis although foreign flights already in the country were allowed to leave. The ban was extended for a week on December 28. However, the measures did not affect the movement of goods.

On Sunday, the Kingdom’s Ministry of Interior said the Saudi government ordered the lifting of “precautionary measures related to the spread of a new variant of coronavirus”, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Saudi Arabia has recorded more than 363,000 cases, including over 6,200 deaths — the highest among the Gulf Arab states — but has also reported a high recovery rate.

In December, Saudi began inoculating its people with a vaccine, becoming the first Arab country to roll out the Pfizer-BioNTech jab. The country has so far received two shipments of the vaccine.

The health authorities asked citizens and residents to register to receive the vaccine, which they said would be given free to all in the country.

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