One pilot and three flight attendants of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), who had performed duties on a special flight from Melbourne to Lahore, have tested positive for the new coronavirus — COVID-19.

As per the details, the national carrier last month ran a one-off flight from Melbourne to Lahore to help hundreds of Pakistanis return home from Australia.

With the country having blocked all international commercial flights since mid-March — a ban that’s now set to continue for an indefinite period of time — many of the country’s residents have struggled to find a path back to their homeland, making government repatriation flights a necessity.


A PIA Boeing 777-200LR first flew from Lahore to Melbourne on Friday, April 24. PK8962 departed Pakistan at 5 pm local time, reaching Melbourne the next day at 10:30 am after a journey of 12 hours and 30 minutes.

Allowing time for the crew to rest before the return leg, the Melbourne-Lahore flight, PK8972, departed at 1 pm on April 26, reaching the provincial capital of Punjab at 9 pm the same day, 13 hours after wheels-up.

PIA’s Boeing 777-200LR jets can normally accommodate up to 310 passengers, but this repatriation service from Melbourne was capped at 250 passengers.

Over a week on, reports say that three crew members of the special flight have tested positive for coronavirus.

The crew members of PIA were earlier awaiting their COVID-19 test results and have now been shifted to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Lahore. Among them are flight attendants Waqar Farooqui, Sofia Shaikh and Ahmed Ammad as well as first officer Shakil Akram.