Heathrow airport accuses PIA of violating UK laws

Published March 27, 2015
PIA has been included in the yellow category because its crewmembers are allegedly involve in carrying restricted items.—AFP/File
PIA has been included in the yellow category because its crewmembers are allegedly involve in carrying restricted items.—AFP/File

LAHORE: The Heathrow airport has issued a “yellow card” (or warning) to the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) for allegedly violating laws of the United Kingdom.

At an airport an airline can be placed in any of three categories — green (satisfactory), yellow (warning) and red (stop operating).

The Border Force Heathrow has included PIA in the yellow category because its crewmembers are allegedly involved in carrying restricted items or goods in excess of their (duty-free) personal allowances.

Know more: Surprise searches conducted on two PIA planes in London

In a letter to PIA, the Heathrow authorities said: “A number of your employees, when operating as crew, have been identified as failing to comply with Border Force policy and/or UK law. Over recent months there have been a number of occasions when ineligible persons have attempted to use the Heathrow Crew Clearance facility, at Building 820. As a result of our checks in Building 820 they have been identified attempting to use it. “Additionally, there have also been persons encountered there who have been found carrying restricted items or goods in excess of their duty-free personal allowances. There have been a number of reminders circulated to airlines to remind you who is eligible to use the Crew Clearance facilitates at Heathrow.

“Under the law all operating crewmembers travelling from outside the European Union are required to make a customs declaration. This applies whether or not they have obtained any goods abroad or during the flight. Crew members (are) not permitted to exit land side until they have made a customs declaration at the Border Force Crew Clearance facility in Building 820.”

Warning PIA in clear terms, the airport authorities said: “As a law-enforcement agency, Border Force will prosecute those persons committing serious offences to the fullest extent of the law.”

The management of the airport asked PIA to advise its employees that continued non-compliance with Border Control law and policy, on arrival in the UK, would not be tolerated any more.

“This includes instances where the crew declaration has not been completed by every member of operating crew, prior to arrival at Building 820. The PIA is one of those airlines with the highest incidence of non-compliance in its terminal. If the PIA non-compliance is identified in the future the use of the Heathrow Crew Clearance facility at Building 820 will be withdrawn. The consequence of such action will be that your (PIA) arriving crews will have to clear the UK Border via the passenger terminals, along with your arriving passengers,” the letter added.

When contacted, PIA’s Hanif Rana said the airline had taken notice of the matter and issued strict directions to the staff concerned.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2015

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