LAHORE/RIYADH: Weeks after Saudi Arabia resumed the Umrah pilgrimage after a six-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has decided to increase the number of flights to the kingdom which is likely to receive more international pilgrims in the coming days.
Speaking to a foreign publication, Abdullah Hafeez Niazi, the spokesperson for the airline, said, “Starting Wednesday (today), the number of flights to Saudi Arabia will be increased to 40 per week.”
Earlier, he said, the airline was operating 23 flights per week.
Earlier this month, Saudi authorities re-opened the Muslim holy places for pilgrimage. In the first phase, Saudis and foreign residents of the kingdom will be allowed to perform Umrah, or the minor pilgrimage, at the Grand Mosque at a 30 per cent capacity or 6,000 people per day.
It emerged Tuesday, the country will allow also international pilgrims from November 1 as part of the phased resumption, providing a boost to subdued transport fuel demand in the country.
Responding to recent developments, Niazi said that the decision to operate additional flights was taken since more and more Pakistan nationals wanted to travel to the Kingdom. He added that these people included workers who were employed in Saudi Arabia and many others who wanted to travel to the kingdom.
“We have the capacity to meet any additional demand,” he added.