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Emirates to seek damages over Qadri episode

Updated June 24, 2014

LAHORE: The Emirates airline plans to file a suit over the damages caused to its reputation by the enforced diversion of its plane carrying Dr Tahirul Qadri on Monday.

Official sources told Dawn that the airline had told the Civil Aviation Authority that it had been upset by the diversion of its flight EK-612 Dubai-Islamabad to Lahore, causing a great deal of inconvenience to passengers on the plane and those waiting at the airport to fly to Dubai.

The plane was scheduled to reach Islamabad at 8am on Monday and return to Dubai at 9.30am after picking passengers.

Related: Plane diversion was Rafiq's idea

But the government did not allow the aircraft to land at Islamabad to foil Dr Qadri’s plan to go to Lahore by road to demonstrate his political strength.

“The Emirates pilots were shocked to receive the ‘order’ to take the plane to Lahore because there was no issue of weather or airport occupancy,” sources said.

Because of the diversion of the plane, it missed its scheduled departure to Dubai from Islamabad.

After it left for Islamabad in the evening, the Emirates administration informed the CAA that it intended to file for damages.

The sources said the airline was also considering to “blacklist” Dr Qadri.

“An airliner blacklists a person who puts the lives of other passengers in jeopardy or causes them inconvenience by his action,” a CAA official said.

The PIA blacklisted some 10 people for their behaviour leading to diversion of its flight from Manchester to Stansted Airport last year.

The official said he believed that the Emirates would not consider suspending its flight operation to Pakistan because it had good business here.

However, CAA spokesperson Abid Kaimkhani said he was not aware of any warning by the Emirates. “The airline might have contacted the local (Lahore-based) administration of the CAA. But I have no knowledge of it,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2014