The closure of Pakistan International Airline office in Riyadh has multiplied woes of stranded Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia.
Passengers travelling by the national flag carrier also complained they were being overcharged for the special flights. It was reported that online PIA tickets were also not available, which compelled the expats to visit the PIA office. When the expats reached the PIA office in Riyadh, it was found closed. Passengers complained that agents were charging 3,000 Saudi Riyal instead of 1,800 Riyal announced by the national flag carrier.
On Monday, PIA increased flight prices for those travelling from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan. According to a notification by the Pakistan Embassy in Riyadh, all passengers, travelling from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan’s cities including Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Faisalabad and Multan, will be charged 1,861 Saudi Riyal (Rs81,884) for economy class, and 2,182 Saudi Riyal (Rs96,000) for economy plus class.
It also mentioned that passengers do not need to come to the Pakistan Embassy in Riyadh or Consulate-General Pakistan, as they could contact the PIA call centre, PIA booking offices and the airline’s website and the travel agents concerned to purchase tickets.
If passengers are overcharged, they could contact Pakistan Embassy in Riyadh and give the contact number of the PIA officials.
A PIA spokesperson Ather Awan, however, admitted an increase in fare. “All flights between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are special flights because Saudi Arabia had denied entry of passengers after the coronavirus pandemic outbreak,” he said.
“Planes fly without any passengers from Pakistan. To meet expenditures of fuel, the PIA makes it economically viable and fares are slightly high,” Awan added. According to him, the PIA was following the standard operation procedures (SOPs) for air passengers. He said that on Boeing 777, at least 393 passengers can travel, but now only 240 passengers can travel under the set SOPs.