PIA launches probe after 7 passengers forced to stand during flight

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KARACHI: The Pakistan International Airlines has launched a probe after reportedly seven passengers aboard the Pakistan PIA’s flight PK-743 (Karachi-Madina) on Jan 20 were made to stand throughout the three-hour-long flight.

Despite repeated requests, PIA Spokesperson Danyal Gilani refused to explain anything and just said that an investigation is underway. If someone was found guilty, the PIA would take severe action against them under the company rules, he said.

According to sources, PIA staffers — the pilot, senior purser and traffic staffers — have been trying to shift culpability to each other and the aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, has not taken punitive action against the airline or its staffers for putting the passengers’ lives at risk.

The Boeing 777 aircraft has a seating capacity of 409, including jump seats, while flight PK-743 carried 416 passengers from Karachi to Madina.

Sources said this constituted a serious air safety breach as in the case of an emergency, passengers without seats would not have access to oxygen and could also cause congestion in case of an emergency evacuation.

Capt Anwer Adil, who operated that flight, maintains that he became aware of the said security breach only after the flight had taken off. “Ms Turab informed me that there were some extra people who [had been] boarded by the traffic staff. I also noticed some people were those who were categorically refused jump seats by me at the check in counter before the flight. I had already taken off and the senior purse did not inform me about extra passengers before closing the aircraft door. Therefore after takeoff immediate landing back at Karachi was not possible as it required fuel dumping which was not in the interest of the airline.” He said.

His statement adds: “At Madina and after landing at Karachi from the return flight, I could not highlight this fact in the captain’s de-brief.”

Sources added that the evident reason for going ahead with the journey was to save fuel cost. The crew had opportunely not mentioned any of this in their reports at the end of the journey or after returning to Karachi.

 

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