By Sarah Townsend
Pakistan International Airlines has grounded flights to UAE and says it will refund passengers
Codeshare services operated by Etihad Airways with Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) are likely to be affected by ongoing strike action, the airline announced, as PIA said it had grounded all flights to the UAE and passengers will be refunded.
PIA has grounded 38 inbound flights from Pakistan to Dubai, 3 to Sharjah and 21 to Abu Dhabi, according to a report in Khaleej Times.
It came after two employees were killed this week during violent protests by PIA staff at its headquarters in Karachi.
Staff are hitting out against plans to sell off part of PIA along with other companies set to be privatised under an International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal.
PIA’s regional manager Syed Ishaq Hussain told the newspaper: “Affected passengers will be refunded or transferred to other airlines to ensure they reach their booked destination.
“The entire PIA network was affected today, due to the killing of employees earlier this week that escalated the situation.”
PIA and Etihad Airways have operated a codesharing agreement since last June under which Eithad operates flights between Abu Dhabi and Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar and PIA operates flights back to Abu Dhabi from the four cities.
An Etihad spokesperson told Arabian Business that the airline is operating its “normal schedule of flights to Pakistan” but that codeshare services are likely to be disrupted.
The spokesperson said: “Services operated by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) may be affected by industrial action currently being carried out by the airline.
“All affected guests booked on PIA codeshare flights are being rebooked onto alternative services.
“Guests can call the Etihad Airways Contact Centre on +971 2599 0000 for more information.”
However, Hussain told Khaleej Times that not many UAE passengers were affected, because people had stopped booking flights with the airline after the protests escalated.