LONDON: Ticket prices for flights to Pakistan from the UK tripled because Pakistan’s national airline, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has been banned from flying to three destinations in the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United States.
Flights back from London, Manchester and Birmingham to Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi usually cost an average of £ 500-650 but after the PIA was suspended from operations by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (UKCAA), ticket prices have tripled to the £ 1500 mark 2700
According to Skyscanner, a travel website, the cheapest return ticket from London to Lahore is offered by Turkish Airlines at a cost of £ 1445 which is nearly 300,000 PKR. British Airways, which recently began operations in Pakistan, offers the same flights for more than £ 2000 which will cost travelers more than 400,000 PKR.
A flight by Qatar Airways and Emirates will set back a single traveler of more than £ 2500, which is an unprecedented price for a return ticket from the UK to Pakistan. Other flights by Qatar Airways and British Airways will cost £ 2796.
This happened during a severe crisis for the PIA which was caused after Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan claimed that around one third of Pakistani pilots had dubious licenses. The announcement caused panic around the world, leading to a series of events that have resulted in the suspension of PIA flights and the landing of pilots working globally which were issued licenses by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority.
There are more than 1.5 million Britons from Pakistan in the UK who regularly travel to Pakistan and are very disappointed with the increase in ticket prices. According to the British government, at any time nearly 100,000 British Pakistanis are present in Pakistan. After the closure of Covid-19, nearly 60,000 Britons flew on charter flights from Pakistan to three destinations in Britain.
Abdullah Sheikh, a Pakistani student in the UK who regularly travels to Pakistan, said: “I want to go to Pakistan but cannot go because we travel through the PIA and now we cannot. I used to go 3-4 times a year but now these prices have significantly changed our travel plans. “Abdullah added that stopovers at other airports have made it difficult for elderly and vulnerable travelers who find it difficult to take several flights to get to Pakistan.
In a conversation with The News, a travel agent, Mahboob Hussain, from a travel agent who only deals with PIA tickets, said: “I only do business with PIA, now my company does not have business anymore. I worked with PIA to promote my national airline, but now I am being punished for my patriotism. Other airlines benefit greatly. Who is responsible for the death of the PIA? We will not get an answer. “
Hussain said that while the PIA had issued a number of refunds for canceled flights, he was still waiting for more information about the remaining refunds.
Speaking to The News, a spokesman for the British Civil Aviation Authority (UKCAA) said: “Following the decision on 30 June 2020, by EASA to suspend permission for PIA to operate services to the European Union, PIA flights from Birmingham, London Heathrow and Manchester airports were suspended with soon.
“The British Civil Aviation Authority is required by law to withdraw PIA permission to operate in the UK while awaiting the restoration of EASA with their agreement that meets international air safety standards.”
Recently, the US also banned PIA from flying to and from the US. PIA Spokesman Abdullah Hafeez acknowledged that this was a major setback for national airlines. He said: “We continue to engage with them and sincerely hope that with trust-building actions, decisions will be reviewed.”
The Minister of Aviation’s statement about a dubious license from a Pakistani pilot came in the background of an investigation into the recent crash of a PIA PK 8303 flight from Lahore to Karachi which resulted in the death of 98 people.
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