Now Umra scam! – Operators, PIA team up to fleece pilgrims


LAHORE – After the much-publicised Haj scam, it should not be a surprise for anyone if one day you hear about an Umra scandal. The reason is simple. The travel agents with connivance of the national flag carrier are all set to fleece innocent pilgrims.
Aviation industry experts estimate that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA)’s partnership with some blue-eyed travel agents will cost around Rs 1.6 billion to the general public. A survey conducted by Pakistan Today reveals that the travel and tour operators with the help of PIA have managed to create an artificial seat shortage in the market.
Most travel agents do not have tickets for Umra flights; however, some of them claim that they can arrange tickets for the flights in mid-April as the peak season has started, but every passenger has to pay an extra premium of Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000.
The PIA has already increased the Umra return ticket fares for economy class by over 42 percent in the beginning of the season, which comprise some 80 percent of the total Umra traffic. The pricelist shows that the return fare from northern hubs including Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar is Rs 60,000 for the economy class, but the tickets are being sold at Rs 70,000 to Rs 75,000 by the travel and tour operators.
Based on the principles of demand and supply, the PIA has six different fare structures for economy class: Y, M, T, N, I and O. The figures show that the pre-Umra season return fares for Jeddah from northern hubs was Rs 42,000 while it was Rs 36,000 from Karachi. But the fares from both northern and southern hubs have been jacked up to Rs 60,000 and Rs 55,000 respectively.
The airlines around the world appoint Revenue Booking Designators (RBDs) to maintain proper control over market channels and seamless availability of control products and the PIA is no exception. But it is interesting to note that the national flag carrier had sold out all seats to some favourite travel agents in Islamabad and Karachi much before the RBDs were made available for booking at prices ranging from Rs 42,000 to Rs 46,000.
No seats were offered to travel agents in Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Mardan, Nowshera, Peshawar and rest of the country, which resulted in artificial shortage in market. Some travel agents told Pakistan Today that Umra pilgrims were being victimised by select travel agents for the last few years. Some claim that this nexus was formed during the tenure of the previous PIA Managing Director Capt Aijaz Haroon, which is still maintaining its monopoly.
Figures indicate that Saudi Arabia operations comprise 22 percent of the PIA’s total sales, second only to sales for domestic and international passengers outbound from the various hubs located in Pakistan, which comes to 45 percent of the total sales. Umra and Haj fares have the highest yield in terms of rupees/dollars per revenue kilometre per passenger seat, and this combined with the passenger traffic sales between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia comprise the biggest profitable component of its international operation.
Figures show that Umra operations constitute six percent of the PIA’s total revenues, which were Rs 98 billion last year. Data indicates that the PIA carried around 80,000 Umra pilgrims last year and it is expected that the national flag carrier will get some 85,000 to 90,000 pilgrims this year.
Aviation industry experts argue that there is no reason for an airline like PIA with above average load factor to suffer losses, except mass corruption and pilferages in the operations. In addition, they also point to the agreement between the national flag carrier and Saudi Airline, which bar private airline to operate flights for Umra and Haj pilgrims.


  1. lol, no doubt the people at PIA dont care if you have religious or non religious trip they wil still scam you, look on youtube for their llatest scams where they have resold customer tickets

  2. I take a girl with jaundice, each month I’ll send some money for medical expenses, I did not know what that looked like jaundice was in a web page and a known resultaque commented me and adotamos girl and every month we send photos.

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