Pakistan’s ailing national carrier, PIA has issued show-cause notices to a pilot and two others officials for allowing seven extra passengers on a flight to Saudi Arabia last month in a serious violation of air safety regulations, according to a media report on Monday.
Pakistan International Airlines spokesperson Danyal Gilani did not comment on the development, but said: “Disciplinary action has been taken against all concerned officials.”
Capt Anwer Adil, senior purser (air hostess) Hina Turab, and terminal manager Akbar Ali Shah were issued notices for allegedly letting extra passengers travel on jump seats and the cockpit on PIA flight PK-743, Dawn newspaper reported.
The development came after an inquiry committee set up by the airline found the allegations to be true, it said.
The Boeing 777 aircraft has a seating capacity of 409, including jump seats, while flight PK-743 carried 416 passengers from Karachi to Madina on January 20.
“After in-depth investigation... it has been confirmed that passenger[s] travelled on [the] flight are over and above of the aircraft configuration (including jump seats), which is a clear violation of SOP [standard operating procedures] and violation of passenger safety,” says a report signed by manager operations Sohail Jaffar Ali.
As per SOPs in cases like these, the report said, the aircraft should be parked again to offload extra passengers “which was not done in this case”, the paper quoted the report as saying.
“Such type of violation/irregularity cannot be ignored in which safety of the passenger[s] is on [sic] stake,” it said.
Quoting sources, the paper said Capt Adil will not be able to operate flights after being issued the notice. The civil aviation authority is also investigating allegations of safety violation against the captain.
As many as seven passengers aboard the PIA flight were forced to stand throughout the over three-hour flight after the airline boarded excess passengers, the Dawn had reported last week.
PIA said on Sunday it would investigate the allegations, but denied the extra passengers ‘stood in the aisles’ for the three-hour journey.
The airline’s spokesperson said media reports that some passengers travelled standing were “exaggerated and baseless. It is not possible for anyone to travel like that in an aircraft, regardless of the duration of the flight,” he had said.
PIA, was once a symbol of Pakistan’s engineering and aviation prowess but now suffers from huge debts, an aging fleet and a string of corruption scandals.
The airline has accumulated liabilities of over Rs 300 billion and an additional loss of over Rs 5.6 billion is being added to this amount every month, the PIA management told a Senate committee at a briefing last month. The panel was also informed that the airline earned around Rs 7.5 billion a month while its expenses were over Rs 13.14 billion.