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Chief Justice (CJ) Saqib Nisar on Tuesday ordered Shaheen Air International (SAI) to pay damages to its affected passengers who were left stranded in Guangzhou, China, after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) suspended the airline's flight operations.

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.

"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.

On July 29, the SAI flight to Guangzhou was cancelled after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had 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.

Editorial: Stranded passengers

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 today's hearing, the counsel for SAI held the CAA responsible for the plight of the affected passengers. The CAA just halted the air operations all of a sudden after issuing a warning, said the lawyer, alleging that the airline was facing discrimination.

SAI Chairman Sehbai told the court that the airline would reimburse the expenditures to the affected passengers and pay an additional amount of Rs5 million. To this, the court said that each affected passenger would receive Rs25,000 only which is not enough, directing the airline to pay an additional amount of Rs20m.

Sehbai said that he would inform the court about the additional amount after consultations.

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.