Planespotters in the Birmingham area have never seen anything like it: a fleet of Polish-registered Boeing 737s flying from Islamabad via Moscow to the West Midlands.
The trio of Enter Air planes making for Birmingham airport from the Pakistani capital are among the many unusual aircraft movements bringing British citizens to the UK before 4am on Friday.
That is the moment when Pakistan – and three other nations – join the UK’s “red list” of high-risk countries.
A traveller arriving after the deadline will need to pay £1,750 for 11 nights of hotel quarantine. Before 4am on Friday they can simply travel home by public transport and self-isolate for 10 days (or less, if a test taken after five days proves negative).
As demand and fares have soared, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and the Pakistani carrier PIA have laid on extra nonstop services.
But with thousands of UK citizens in Pakistan, and no indication of when the red list restrictions might ease, enterprising travel agents have chartered in many additional aircraft to take part in the airlift.
An Airbus A330 belonging to Air Senegal and operated by HiFly Malta has shuttled between Islamabad and Manchester five times in the past week…