PIA operations

Confusion around Covid-19 certification


In times of crisis it is admittedly difficult to keep everyone informed but it is such time when people need information the most. The challenge for any government is to not only ensure timely provision of information to its intended recipients but also ensure to cull all the misinformation that has become reality in times of ubiquitous handheld devices.

Government of Pakistan last week had announced to not allow anyone board a plane headed to any of the Pakistani airports without a certificate clearing him or her of coronavirus. Then news started circulating that the condition was being removed. Passengers at airports complained that they were not given enough notice and at the time they did their reservation they were not informed of the condition. They also said that the countries, of which there are many, they were in had no facility for testing people for coronavirus infection.

Around the same time Pakistan international Airlines decided to suspend its worldwide operations for two weeks effective immediately. This also panicked people who were midway their flights or were about to board some plane. Later it was clarified that any stranded flights shall be allowed some grace time to land in Pakistan. Shehbaz Sharif, leader of the opposition in National Assembly, was also on one such flight which eventually was able to land but for a moment it led people to believe that the PML-N leader was up to some political gimmick and he in fact never intended to come back and was using the opportunity to show to his countrymen that he meant to come back if only the PIA had let him.

As government has a mind to strictly enforce the flight suspension, the fate of those who are midway remains unknown.  The government must ensure their safe return without of course compromising safety of its citizens. There must be some way.