PIA loses millions in special flights ticketing scam

Updated June 30, 2020

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PIA officials reportedly made about Rs8 million in the sale of tickets for special flights to Europe. — APP/File
PIA officials reportedly made about Rs8 million in the sale of tickets for special flights to Europe. — APP/File

LAHORE: After dubious licenses scandal involving pilots, another scam hit the national flag carrier on Monday with its officials making about Rs8 million in the sale of tickets for special flights to Europe.

Sources told Dawn that some officials at the Sialkot PIA office accommodated 50 or so old ticket holders for their travel to Italy and Paris on special flights in violation of rules to mint money.

As per policy, the PIA has not been accommodating passengers having tickets issued prior to Covid-19 pandemic, (since mid-March) for any destination.

For special flights, the PIA is issuing new tickets which are almost double the price of the fare charged for regular flights issued prior to the pandemic.

“The officials in question accommodated old purchased tickets by charging extra money from their holders (passengers) for their travel to Italy and Paris,” a source said, adding the officials did this fraud in collaboration with some travel agents.

He said the ‘culprits’ (officials) made some Rs8million from this trick. “Through this fraud the officials also deprived the PIA of a huge sum of money,” he said and added that the fraud had been detected and an inquiry launched against those involved.

PIA spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez was not available for a comment on this matter.

Those availing the special repatriation flights to Pakistan have earlier expressed their concern on inadequate arrangements to acquire tickets, costly fares and non-refundable tickets in case of any mishap.

Earlier, the federal government had asked the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) to book tickets, instead of PIA, for those repatriated from the US.

Lack of coordination between the Pakistani embassy in the United States and the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has been causing problems to stranded passengers in getting their tickets booked for home-bound travel.

Meanwhile, the family of one of the victims of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft crash on May 22 has urged the Supreme Court to take action against the `mafia’ that it claimed has ruined the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the national flag carrier, and demanded early release of the insurance amount as per the carriage act law.

“There has been a series of fatal accidents in the past and nothing has changed as we have not learned a lesson from these accidents. We request the Supreme Court chief justice to take action against those who ruined the CAA and the airline industry in the country,” said Danish Awan whose mother died in the crash.

Talking to Dawn on Monday, he said financial compensation (insurance) should be provided immediately to the affected families as per the carriage act law.

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2020