British Airways has not halted flights to Pakistan due to fuel shortages

The airline has suspended flights for two weeks due to “operational reasons”

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Claim: British Airways has grounded all flights to Pakistan due to fuel shortages following petrol price hikes.

Fact: The UK-based airline has temporarily suspended direct flights between London and Islamabad from 15 – 30 June 2022 due to “operational reasons”. The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority has clarified that the claim regarding the suspension of flights due to lack of fuel at Islamabad International Airport is incorrect. 

Fact or Fiction?

On 7 June 2022, Facebook page People Magazine Pakistan claimed in a post that British Airways (BA) had suspended flights to Pakistan for two weeks due to fuel shortages in the country.

The post featured the following text:

“Flights to Pakistan suspended by British Airways because of fuel shortage.”

The claim was also shared on some other pages and groups, including here, here, here and here.

Soch Fact Check found the claim to be misleading. In response to the news circulating on social media regarding BA’s flight suspension due to lack of fuel at the Islamabad International Airport, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCCA) issued a press release on 7 June 2022, stating that the reports are incorrect and flights will continue to operate until 15 June. 

The statement read, “However due to operational reasons, British Airways has suspended the flights to Islamabad from 15th to 30th June 2022. The suspension of flights is only due to operational reasons of British Airways.” 

It continued, In addition PCAA has also taken report from supplier of Aviation fuel at Islamabad Airport who confirmed that there is no shortage of fuel and storage tanks are full of product.”

Virality:

According to a CrowdTangle analysis conducted by Soch Fact Check, the search term, “British Airways flights to Pakistan”, turned up 13 posts on Facebook which received 148 interactions over the three-day period leading up to 7 June 2022. 

While the Urdu search term, “برٹش ائیرویز نے پاکستان کے لئے ساری فلائیٹس گراؤنڈ کردی ہیں” received 11 interactions across three posts during the same period. 

Many pages carried the story in question with the same or very similar headlines and/or captions:

  • British Airways grounds all flights to Pakistan after no fuel refill from Islamabad
  • Flights to Pakistan suspended by British Airways because of fuel shortage 
  • برٹش ائیرویز نے پاکستان کے لئے ساری فلائیٹس گراؤنڈ کردی ہیں  [British Airways has grounded all flights to Pakistan]
  • برطانوی فضائی کمپنی برٹش ایئرویز کا پاکستان کیلئے آپریشن معطل کرنے کا فیصلہ [British Airways decides to suspend flight operations for Pakistan]

The analysis revealed that People Magazine Pakistan’s post had received 747 likes and 235 shares at the time of publishing. 

A handful of accounts on Facebook have reshared screenshots of Hello Pakistan’s and Newsie’s post, as well as of a tweet carrying the claim by Economy of Pakistan (@Pakistanomy). All three of these posts have now been deleted. 

The misleading tweet by Economy of Pakistan (@Pakistanomy) was posted on 6 June and read, “British Airways have grounded all flights to Pakistan amid the unavailability of fuel from the capital Islamabad”. 

On Twitter, the claim was also shared here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Some websites including Siasat.pk and Informatic Point carried the claim with headlines which are missing context. They did, however, mention in the body of their articles that the flight suspension will last for two weeks only.

Conclusion: British Airways has not grounded all flights to Pakistan due to a lack of fuel at the Islamabad airport. The airline will temporarily suspend flights between London and Islamabad from 15 – 30 June 2022 due to operational reasons, according to the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority.

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