An Icelandair Boeing 767 is conducting two flights between Pakistan and the UK as the country prepares to enter the red list. From 04:00 AM on 9th April, Pakistan will be on the red list, tightly restricting travel to the UK. To cater to the rush of travelers in these last few days, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has chartered several flights to carry the rush of passengers.
With Pakistan just a day away from joining the UK’s red list, PIA is adding more flights between the countries. According to Fluggbogg, an Icelandair spokesperson confirmed that the airline is using one of its Boeing 767s to conduct repatriation flights on behalf of PIA this week. The two flights are operating on April 7th and 8th from Manchester to Islamabad.
To prepare for the mission, the 767, registered TF-ISO, made from Reykjavik to Islamabad on April 5th. The aircraft then flew from Islamabad to Manchester on April 7th and returned the same day. The chartered plane is set to make one more journey from Islamabad to the UK today before completing its mission.
The two PIA charters with Icelandair are part of many more flights planned by the carrier. According to Dawn, PIA has organized a total of eight flights before the travel ban kicks on the 9th. These flights are operating between Islamabad and London and Manchester today, with limited seats available.
In total, there are 13 flights between Pakistan and UK are available in the last few days for last-minute traffic. Virgin Atlantic had, prior to the red list announcement, upgraded its two Pakistan routes to A350-1000s, offering extra seats during this rush to travelers. British Airways also doubled services to Islamabad last week due to high demand.
A quick search of Google Flights shows that all direct flights from Pakistan to the UK for today, April 8th, are sold out. For passengers looking to book in an emergency, contacting PIA, British Airways, or Virgin Atlantic will be the best bet.
Under the UK’s updated travel guidance in January, the country has added 39 “red list” countries. These are countries with a high number of COVID-19 cases and the threat of new strains of the virus. Once added to the red list, only British or Irish citizens and those with residence permits will be allowed to enter the UK. Foreign nationals will be banned from coming to the UK as long as the country stays on the red list.
Currently, several countries in South America and Africa are on the list due to the new variants emerging there, along with many others. Both UAE and Qatar have also been added to the list, impacting Emirates and Qatar Airways’ operations. The UK has also enforced a hotel quarantine system for arrivals from red list countries, hoping to avoid new imported cases.
What do you think about the last-minute rush of flights today? Let us know in the comments!