A consumer court in Karachi has ordered Qatar Airways to pay Rs550,000 as compensation to a passenger for providing "faulty services".
Judge Mukesh Kumar Talreja of the Consumer Protection Court (South) also slapped a fine of Rs25,000 on the management of the Gulf airline to be deposited in the government treasury within 30 days.
The court also ordered the national flag carrier of Qatar to improve its services with regard to reasonable standards as set out by the governing laws.
In case of default, the defendant shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not less than one month which may extend to three years, or with a fine of not less than Rs50,000 which may extend to Rs200,000 or with both, in terms of Section 33(2) of the Sindh Consumer Protection Act, 2014.
The airline was told to comply with all the directives within a period of 30 days.
These directives came on a complaint filed by Obaid Hussain Qureshi, who took the airline to court through its regional manager in Pakistan over faulty services provided by the carrier.
The complainant stated that on October 7, 2020, he had departed from Karachi through the defendant airline for London, where he had already arranged accommodation till November 3.
On Nov 4, the complainant was due to fly back to Pakistan, but the airline had cancelled the flight and subsequently caused a delay of 23 hours without giving any prior notice or intimation to him, Qureshi's counsel told the court.
The counsel argued that such sudden change and delay in the flight had caused serious financial and mental torture to the complainant as he had neither accommodation nor travel facilities in London.
Therefore, he had to bear extra charges for his meals, hotel accommodation and airport transportation.
The court was informed that the complainant had issued a legal notice to the defendant airline, which was never replied to. Therefore, the court was pleaded to order the airline to pay him damages of Rs2 million on account of expenses borne in the head of accommodation and travelling, mental shock and distress as well as expenses incurred on litigation.
In its comments, the airline’s representative informed the court that the delay in the flight was caused due to the pandemic and maintained that such circumstances were beyond its control.
The representative maintained that the complainant was duly intimated 14 days in advance about the change in the flight schedule, both personally as well as through his travel agent.
There was no proof of consequential damages in lieu of mental torture, agony or shock caused to the complainant, said the representative, and asked the court to dismiss the complaint.