Shaheen Air to pay Rs0.1m to each passenger it left stranded in China

  • SC directs authorities to put name of airline’s CEO on ECL

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Tuesday ordered Shaheen Air International (SAI) to ensure that over 214 passengers, who were left stranded in China for a week, are adequately compensated for their ordeal.

A three-member bench, headed by CJ Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul, was hearing the case regarding the SAI passengers in China.

On July 29, the SAI flight to Guangzhou was cancelled after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) suspended the airline’s flight operations, except Haj flights, because of non-payment of its dues of over Rs1.5 billion. Over 300 passengers were left stranded at the Chinese airport. Later, some passengers were refunded their tickets, while some others were transferred to hotels and provided food, etc.

The remaining 214 passengers of the airline had remained stranded in China for almost nine days, eventually returning on Monday after Chief Justice Nisar ordered immediate repatriation of the passengers.

The CAA had given special permission to the SAI to send a plane to bring back the passengers.

During Tuesday’s proceedings, the CJP remarked that passengers had faced stress due to staying at a foreign airport for a week and ordered the airline to pay compensation to all passengers.

“I am placing your name on the ECL. You can’t go abroad before paying the damages,” the chief justice told SAI Chairman Ehsan Sehbai.

The Shaheen Air chief executive blamed the CAA for the problem and informed the court that Rs5 million could be paid in compensation.

“Rs0.1 million should be paid to each passenger since many passengers had borrowed the amount and the embassy had contributed to the expenses,” the chief justice said in his remarks, adding that staying at an airport for three days was torturous.

The counsel for the airline maintained that Shaheen Air bore the expenses of the passengers for three days and blamed the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for the problem.

“The CAA just halted the air operations all of a sudden after issuing a warning,” counsel for SAI said, alleging that the airline was facing discrimination.

The CJP directed the CEO to inform the court before August 20 about the specific amount given. The airline was also ordered to inform the court about its dispute with the CAA in written form.

The top court ordered authorities to place the name of the airline’s chairman on the Exit Control List (ECL) until SAI pays its affected passengers.

The hearing was adjourned until August 20.