ISLAMABAD: As the nation continues its fight against the coronavirus pandemic with another shipment of vaccines from China due to arrive on Sunday (today), the government has not overlooked Pakistani travelers stranded in other countries after some international airlines canceled their flights.
Assuming the ease of travel restrictions by authorities, the airlines had scheduled additional flights to Pakistan and made reservations as well, but then canceled those flights after the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) maintained travel restrictions given the increase in Covid cases in some areas.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has taken up the issue with five international airlines, asking them to accommodate passengers on the fastest possible flights from the same or any other airline to Pakistan in addition to hotel accommodation and payment of damages to passengers.
The CAA also warned these airlines that it would be forced to take regulatory action against them, which could include a financial penalty, the cancellation of one or more flights and the revocation of the schedule authorization.
In its letter to five airlines, namely Qatar Airways, Turkish Airline, Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Fly Dubai, CAA addressed the issue of inconvenience to passengers caused by flight cancellations. âIt has been seriously noted that a large number of passengers have been affected by your airline’s flight cancellations to Pakistan in recent weeks. Taking into account the imposition of flight operations restrictions (i.e. 20% of approved inbound scheduled flight operations) since May 5, 2021 and subsequent periodic extensions of restrictions that have been duly communicated to airlines flights through NOTAM in a timely manner, reservations made by your airline after May 5, 2021, or such passengers on such flights, were unjustified, âthe aviation regulator said.
âSuch reservations should only have been made after confirmation of the lifting of the restrictions. A substantial number of affected passengers suffered great inconvenience and financial loss (in the form of hotel accommodation costs, living expenses, etc.) as they had planned their departure from foreign countries to Pakistan according to the departure dates of their booked flight, âCAA mentioned.
Regarding hotel accommodation and reimbursement, CAA suggested in its letter: âHotel accommodation, according to the needs of these passengers, should be provided, especially to passengers who do not have of their own accommodation. In cases where passengers choose reimbursement of tickets, the tickets of the passengers concerned should be fully reimbursed in addition to the payment of compensation for damage suffered, in accordance with Article 22 (1) of the Montreal Convention, 1999 / Rule 22 (1) of the Fourth Air Transport Program Act, 2012.
Airlines have been advised that guideline compliance reports are expected to be provided no later than July 8, failing which the Pakistan CAA would be forced to take regulatory action which may include financial sanctions, cancellation of one or more flights and revocation of program authorization.
While maintaining travel restrictions with 20% of normal air traffic from the rest of the world, the NCOC had previously recommended increasing the capacity of only direct inbound international flights from Europe, Canada, UK, China, Malaysia and some other countries to 40% of normal passenger volume from July 1.
According to the latest NCOC data, 34 deaths and 1,400 cases were confirmed in a single day and the number of active cases was 32,319. In addition, the case positivity rate, which was less than 2% with around 1 000 cases last week, rose to 2.91% with 1,400 cases reported in the last day.
Meanwhile, another shipment of around two million doses of Sinopharm is expected to arrive here from China on Sunday (today) as the government pushes hard to boost vaccination.
“False entries in the Punjab”
The Punjab’s primary and secondary health care department has learned of the false entrances to Covid-19 vaccination centers.
According to a press release, the secretary of the health department has formed an investigative committee to monitor vaccine stocks. “Amid the mass Covid-19 vaccination campaign in Punjab, it was discovered that vaccinators and data entry operators were making false entries,” the statement added.
An official from the Department of National Health Services, asking not to quote, said immunization staff could also be involved in bogus entries, but the trend was also seen among visitors to different immunization centers.
âWe have observed that some people come to the vaccination centers and after registration they leave rather than going to the hall to be vaccinated. We have tried to solve the problem, but people need to understand that it is in their best interest to get them vaccinated, âhe said.
Posted in Dawn, July 4, 2021