PIA repatriates 136 stranded Pakistani nationals from Iraq
Statesman Report
ISLAMABAD: A special flight of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) repatriated 136 stranded Pakistani citizens in Iraq on Wednesday.
Flight PK-9814 reached Islamabad in the morning, where a special team of doctors examined and screened the passengers.
Along with the aircraft’s crew, the passengers have for now been quarantined at a local hotel, whereas one passenger has been shifted to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences PIMS due to high fever. According to the concerned authorities, blood samples of the passengers and PIA’s crew will be taken at the hotel. Only those who test negative for COVID-19 will be allowed to go home.
On April 7, PIA pilots had refused to bring back the stranded Pakistanis from Iraq after two pilots and an air hostess of the flag carrier tested positive for coronavirus.
PK-9813, travelling from Islamabad to Baghdad, was to fly back 161 Pakistanis who gathered at the Baghdad airport from various Iraqi cities.
Pilots agree to return to work
The pilots reportedly did not arrive at the airport despite the PIA CEO’s and other officials assurance regarding the provision of protective gear.
The refusal came following an ongoing standoff between the PIA and the Pakistan Air Line Pilots’ Association (Palpa) after the three crewmembers contracted the virus. They were onboard the recent special flight operated to bring back stranded Pakistanis from Canada.
The association had also protested the non-provision of safety equipment to the carrier’s crew by the PIA.
However, later in the day, pilots agreed to resume flight operations after the management of the national flag carrier, during a meeting chaired by the aviation division secretary, accepted their demand to provide crewmembers PPE and follow other SOPs in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.