PIA resumes Peshawar flights

Following the closure of the flight from Dubai in May, the airline has decided to resume flights to Peshawar from December 18.

Tauheed Sherzameen Khan says he was relieved when he heard about the resumption of flights to Peshawar. Silvia Razgova / The National
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ABU DHABI // Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is resuming its Dubai-Peshawar flights after scrapping the route earlier this year.

The announcement comes after the The National reported problems that the Pashtun community faced because of the closure of the service in May.

The carrier also cancelled flights from Abu Dhabi in September. PIA’s office in Dubai said it could not confirm if or when these flights would be restored.

“PIA is pleased to extend its services to the Pashtun community from three frequencies to seven weekly frequencies effective from December 18,” the airline said in a release.

“Resumption of Peshawar flights from Dubai will benefit the Pashtun community living in all emirates.”

The release said that PIA was the only airline in the world that carried the bodies of Pakistani nationals “along with an attendant back to Pakistan free of charge, the resumption of flights will help the Pashtun community to carry back their loved ones timely and conveniently”.

Syed Ishaq Hussain, regional manager for the airline in the UAE, said: “PIA needs the support of the Pakistani community in general, and the Pashtun community in particular, to make this operation a success as only a profitable route can be sustained in the long run.”

The airline has added seven weekly flights to Karachi and Bacha Khan international airport in Peshawar, bringing the flights between Pakistan and Dubai to 35 a week, it said.

Local expat Tauheed Sherzameen Khan said he was relieved.

“Next week I will be going to my home on annual leave,” said the 24-year-old, who is from the Swabi district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and works as a driver in Abu Dhabi.

“With the PIA’s Peshawar flight closure it was very difficult for me to arrange travel plans. I was checking other options but somehow nothing was working out for me. Now when I heard that PIA Peshawar flights will be operating soon, travel will be much easier for me.”

Haji Daraz Khan, a Pashtun living in the capital, said: “Yes it is good news that PIA is starting its flights again from Dubai. But what about Abu Dhabi? Considering the Pashtun population in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, the Abu Dhabi route should also be restored immediately.”

The 65-year-old said he did not know what made the UAE-Peshawar route so unprofitable that the airline chose to close it down.

“It has always been a problem to get the ticket from PIA and yet they complain about the financial loss. If that was the case then why have they increased the flights from Dubai now?”

He also questioned the price increase of PIA tickets.

“PIA management should also revise the ticket cost as the Pashtun labourers won’t be able to afford expensive tickets.”

Asif Durrani, the Pakistani ambassador to the UAE, applauded the airline’s decision.

“The Pakistani community will not only be greatly relieved by this decision but would be indebted to the PIA management for listening to their genuine grievances,” he said.

“Hopefully, PIA will resume flights on other sectors as well.”

Last month a group of Pakistani community representatives presented a letter to the ambassador demanding that the airline resume the service.