PIA has increased flight prices for those travelling from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan.
According to a notification by the Pakistan Embassy in Riyadh, a copy of which is also available with The News, all passengers, travelling from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan’s cities including Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Faisalabad and Multan, will be charged 1,861 Saudi Riyal (Rs81,884) for economy class, and 2,182 Saudi Riyal (Rs96,000) for economy plus class.
It also mentioned that passengers do not need to come to the Pakistan Embassy in Riyadh or Consulate-General Pakistan, as they could contact the PIA call centre, PIA booking offices and the airline’s website and the travel agents concerned to purchase tickets.
If passengers are overcharged, they could contact Pakistan Embassy in Riyadh and give the contact number of the PIA officials.
However, passengers travelling by the national carrier have complained they were being overcharged for the special flights. Muhammad Hakeem Ajmal, head of Rimsha Travel Agency, said that in routine, one passenger’s return ticket costs only Rs75,000. However, now PIA was charging a passenger Rs81,884 for one way travel.
A PIA spokesperson Ather Awan, however, admitted an increase in fare. “All flights between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are special flights because Saudi Arabia had denied entry of passengers after the coronavirus pandemic outbreak,” he said.
“Planes fly without any passengers from Pakistan. To meet expenditures of fuel, the PIA makes it economically viable and fares are slightly high,” Awan added. According to him, the PIA was following the standard operation procedures (SOPs) for air passengers. He said that on Boeing 777, at least 393 passengers can travel, but now only 240 passengers can travel under the set SOPs.
Khwaja Muhammad Ayub Nasim, a spokesperson for the Travel Agents Association Pakistan, said that the PIA was exploiting the situation by charging higher fares. He said that passengers were being overcharged by ‘special flights’ which, instead, should have given relief to the people.
A PIA spokesperson said the airline had publicly announced the standard fares from both the countries. And, it was further announced that tickets are available from IATA agents, the PIA app and website as well as from the PIA offices in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In case there are instances of overcharging, it may be immediately reported to the Pakistani missions and the PIA country managers.
Separately, the airline has also decided to operate two flights to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on June 17 as part of its relief efforts to bring back stranded Pakistanis and to take the foreign nationals back to their countries.
PIA will operate two flights to Bishkek from Islamabad, the one-way fare will be US$450, inclusive of all taxes.