KARACHI: An aircraft of the Shaheen Air International (SAI) brought over 200 pilgrims, who were stranded in Madina, back to Karachi early on Sunday morning.

Talking to Dawn, SAI official Zohaib Hassan said that the Hajis were stranded in Saudi Arabia as the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) revoked the SAI’s Regular Public Transport (RPT) licence.

He said that SAI’s flight NL-704 with over 200 Hajis on board landed at the Jinnah International Airport early on Sunday morning.

“We have brought back our Hajis who were stranded in Madina. All the passengers reached Karachi safely. They were being taken care of by the airline while in Madina,” he added.

Apologising to the passengers for the inconvenience caused owing to the CAA action, he expressed the hope that the authority would allow the SAI to continue its remaining Haj flights smoothly.

The CAA is in a dispute with the SAI over non-payment of its dues of Rs1.4 billion by the airline. The issue is pending in a court.

Earlier, due to the non-payment of dues, the CAA had suspended international as well as domestic flight operations of the SAI. Although the CAA had announced repeatedly that SAI’s Haj

flights would not be affected, it suspended the airline’s Haj flights on Friday owing to which over 200 Hajis were stranded in Saudi Arabia.

Because of suspension of the SAI’s flight operation, over 300 passengers were stranded in China for over a week last month. They were brought back to the country after the Supreme Court had taken notice of the issue and ordered immediate repatriation of the Pakistanis stranded in China. The court had also directed that the passengers, who had suffered for a week in China, be compensated.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2018

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