ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary committee was told that Emirates airline has refused to use passenger boarding bridges at airports in Pakistan after an air bridge collapsed at the new Islamabad International airport last month.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Air Marshal Arshad Malik, told the Senate Standing Committee on Aviation that Emirates had announced its decision, citing safety standards as the reason. The committee met for a briefing on how the air bridge collapsed with complete details of its make, model and purchase, among other things.
On Oct 9, the air bridge, purchased from the Spanish company Adelte, collapsed, leaving two staff members injured. Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Hassan Baig said the matter was under investigation. “We are looking into several possible reasons such as design faults, human error, maintenance problems as well as communication errors. It can be all four. But, so far it seems to be a design flaw,” said Mr Baig.
He explained to the committee that similar faults had been detected with air bridges at Karachi airport and Bacha Khan International Airport in Peshawar.
According to the official, a thorough report is due on Dec 7; however, the fault seemed to be in the design of the bridge — apparently, a loose pin. “Similar design problems were detected at both the airports in Karachi and Peshawar,” said Mr Baig, adding that the remaining payments to Adelte had been suspended. According to the contract, the CAA is in a position to ask Adelte to extend the warranty period of the air bridge. The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Senator, Nauman Wazir, however, said that human error must not be ignored.
The chairman of the committee, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Senator Mushahidullah Khan urged Air Marshal Malik to take the matter seriously.“Today Emirates has declined to use the air bridges, tomorrow other airlines may follow. The PIA can lose a lot of revenue,” said Mr Khan.
The committee also discussed newspaper reports highlighting the involvement of PIA officers in smuggling and money laundering. Air Marshal Malik responded by saying that the matter was indeed sensitive, and would be taken seriously. “Some staff has already been placed under scrutiny and disciplinary action has been taken against two staff members. Their actions bring disgrace not just to the PIA, the Airport Security Force (ASF) and other associated organisations but also to the entire nation,” said the CEO.
According to a senior official of the ASF, the various departments must coordinate more efficiently to prevent such cases. “We still lack coordination while checking catering vehicles, for instance,” said the official.
Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2018