The Supreme Court on Tuesday while hearing a suo motu case on Pakistan International Airlines' (PIA) high airfare to Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), directed the national flag carrier to lower its rates to the tourist destination.
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nasir, who took suo motu notice of the matter last month, was heading a three-judge bench hearing the case alongside Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.
In April, GB lawmakers expressed concern over a Rs5,500 increase in the one-way fare from Islamabad to Skardu, bringing the fare to Rs14,000.
They noted that PIA had a monopoly over the route and was charging more than a one-way flight from Islamabad to Karachi and were afraid that the fare hike would adversely impact tourism in GB.
The CJP asked PIA Chief Executive Officer Musharraf Rasool Cyan's lawyer, Naeem Bukhari, what the airfare from Islamabad to GB was.
Bukhari responded to the CJP's question with details for the fare for a round-trip from Islamabad to Sukkur instead, which he said amounted to Rs26,000.
"The fare (for a round-trip from Islamabad to GB) is almost Rs30,000," the CJP told the lawyer. "From here [Islamabad] to GB is a half-hour journey," the top judge said. "Do not mistreat the people [of GB] in this manner."
Justice Ijazul Ahsan subsequently directed PIA to lower its fares for Islamabad-GB flights.
"Lower the rates," Justice Ahsan said.