CAA update int’l travel categories- COVID advisory

KARACHI: The Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan on Tuesday updated its Covid advisory and A & B categories for international travel, which will come in effect from Wednesday (tomorrow).

It has notified the new categories, A & B, for international travels wherein 23 countries now qualify in the former category, which means people traveling to Pakistan from category A will not have to take the mandatory pre-boarding Covid test.

China, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, and Australia are among the A-category countries according to CAA.

However, those coming from countries in the B travel category will have to make sure a negative Covid PCR report at maximum of 90 hours prior to boarding. The rest of Covid SOPs will remain the same and their implementation will be mandatory, the CAA said.

On Monday, CAA had issued travel restrictions for the passengers coming in from the United Kingdom (UK) and South Africa in view of a second novel coronavirus wave amplified by a newly detected Covid strain found hastily transmissible across Britain.

According to the then CAA advisory on inbound travel from UK and South Africa, any Pakistan passport holder with a business visa, visitor visa or transit visa can board Pakistani-bound UK and South Africa flight on a condition they test Covid negative in a PCR test conducted 72 hours prior to flight.

Diplomats and their families may also travel to Pakistan from the UK and South Africa while in possession of a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours prior to flight.

Gerry’s dnata, recently launched a brand new marhaba lounge at Karachi airport.

Gerry’s dnata, the largest ground handler in Pakistan, recently launched a brand new marhaba lounge at Karachi airport. Earlier, they also commenced the construction of what is primed to become Pakistan’s largest cargo handling warehouse. These investments are only a snapshot of the endeavours the company has as part of its larger plan of strengthening their already strong foothold in Pakistan.

“This year we have invested extensively into innovative projects such as the marhaba Lounge and a state-of-the-art import cargo warehouse facility at the Karachi Airport,” Syed Haris Raza, vice president, Gerry’s dnata said.

“marhaba Lounge has opened its door at the Jinnah International Airport after 25 years of being operated in more than five locations worldwide. Now that this project has seen daylight, our eyes are set on the import cargo warehouse,” the vice president of the company said.

Speaking about the warehouse project construction and its progress, Raza said, “The warehouse is progressing steadily. We have achieved a significant scale of construction and expect to complete it by the end of this year.”

The company expects to run the operational stress testing while they manage cargo operations at the current facility. “We are excited about its contribution to the local aviation industry and expect it to form the baseline for more developments,” he added.

The new import cargo warehouse is expected to be completed later this year. This new facility within the grounds of the Karachi airport, will double the tonnage handling capacity to a whopping 72,000 from the current 36,000 square feet.

Raza outlined the company’s growth plans, saying that there were more projects to look forward to. “As part of the growth vision embedded in the very core of Gerry’s dnata, ground equipment service deployment, marhaba Lounge and the new import cargo warehouse are some of the projects we are greatly enthusiastic about,” the VP of Gerry’s dnata said.

“We are half way through 2017 and three out of four remote stations of Gerry’s dnata, namely Multan, Faisalabad and Quetta, have already been empowered with new and highly efficient ground handling equipment. We have already made an investment of above $20 million over the last two years in infrastructure, including the warehouse, new marhaba lounge and ground service equipment.”

He added that the extensive investment will translate into more efficient ground handling operations, leading to shorter ground time, improved on-time performance, and enhanced safety and security of on-ground resources.

Raza was enthusiastic about the developments so far and said the larger vision of the company is also to contribute towards the development of the aviation industry in Pakistan. “We are at the forefront of adapting to industrial changes and customer demands that come along. I have spoken of transformation before, a concept that is perpetual and will always hold relevance to the ever-dynamic factors of this industry. For this matter, we are intently focused on improving internal practices and policies that potentially reflect external factors,” he said.

“We believe in transformation of the economy as a whole by being leaders of innovation and best industrial practices. Our projects are in line with this concept. We constantly challenge our strategies, solutions and planning until we see ourselves where the customer wants us to be.”

Raza also said that despite the challenges, he is optimistic about the growth prospects of the aviation industry of Pakistan. “Economic factors have played a crucial role in determining the growth prospects for this industry. Several international carriers have suspended operations which has naturally affected the local business environment. Having said that, I am positive that this stagnation will soon see an upward trajectory with strong growth in near future. I see more local entrants sprouting and testing the market which will consequently influence international carriers to choose Pakistan as a viable location to commence operations. As a champion for collective growth, I believe the industry players need to continue to work together for the industry.”

Gerry’s dnata was the first venture of dnata outside the UAE. The joint partner, Gerry’s International is one of the largest groups maintaining the biggest corporate travel wing in Pakistan. It offers variety of services related to travel requirements of individual and corporate travellers, also operating FedEx Network in Pakistan. Gerry’s dnata’s footprint has now spread to seven airports across Pakistan, including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, and Peshawar, and makes it the largest ground handler in the country.