CAA asks five airlines to compensate passengers

Published July 4, 2021
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) cautioned those airlines that it would be constrained to initiate regulatory action against them, which may include financial penalty, cancellation of one or more flights and revocation of schedule authorization. — Dawn/File
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) cautioned those airlines that it would be constrained to initiate regulatory action against them, which may include financial penalty, cancellation of one or more flights and revocation of schedule authorization. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: As the nat­ion continues its fight aga­inst the coronavirus pandemic with another consignment of vaccine from China scheduled to arrive on Sun­day (today), the government has not overlooked the Pak­is­tani travellers stranded in other countries after some international airlines cancelled their flights.

Presuming ease of travel restrictions by the authorities, the airlines had scheduled extra flights to Pakistan and made bookings as well but then cancelled those flights after the Nat­ional Command and Opera­tion Centre (NCOC) maintained travel curbs considering the rise in Covid cases in some areas.

The Civil Aviation Autho­rity (CAA) took up the matter with five international airlines, directing them to accommodate the passengers on the earliest possible flights of the same or any other airline to Pakistan besides hotel accommodation and payment of damages to passengers.

The CAA also cautioned those airlines that it would be constrained to initiate regulatory action against them, which may include financial penalty, cancellation of one or more flights and revocation of schedule authorization.

In its letter to five airlines i.e. Qatar Airways, Turkish Airline, Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Fly Dubai, the CAA took up the issue of inconvenience caused to passengers by flight cancellations. “It has been seriously noted that a huge number of passengers have been affected by flight cancellations of your airline to Pakistan in recent weeks. Keeping in view the imposition of flight operation restrictions (i.e. 20pc of approved inbound scheduled flight operations) since 5th May 2021 and subsequent periodic extensions of the restrictions which were duly communicated to the airlines through timely NOTAMs, the reservations made by your airline after 5th May 2021 or such passengers on such flights, were unjustified,” stated the aviation regulator.

“Such reservations should only have been made after confirmation of lifting of restrictions. A substantial number of the affected passengers have been facing great inconvenience and financial losses (in the form of hotel accommodation expenses, living expenses etc.) as they had planned their departure from foreign countries to Pakistan as per their reserved flight departure dates,” the CAA mentioned.

About hotel accommodation and refund, the CAA in its letter suggested: “Hotel accommodation, as and when required by such passengers, should be provided, especially to those passengers who do not have own accommodation. In cases where passengers choose ticket refunds, the tickets of the affected passengers should be fully refunded in addition to the payment of compensation for the damages suffered by them, in line with Article 22(1) of The Montreal Convention, 1999 / Rule 22(1) of The Fourth Schedule of Carriage by Air Act, 2012.”

The airlines were informed that compliance reports on the directives should be provided at the latest by July 8, failing which Pakistan CAA would be constrained to initiate regulatory action that could include financial penalty, cancellation of one or more flights and revocation of schedule authorisation.

While maintaining travel curbs with 20pc of the normal air traffic from rest of the world, the NCOC had earlier recommended increased the capacity for only direct international inbound flights from Europe, Canada, the UK, China, Malaysia and some other countries to 40pc of the normal volume of passengers from July 1.

According to latest data of the NCOC, 34 deaths and 1,400 cases were confirmed in a single day and number of active cases was 32,319. Also, the positivity rate of cases, which was less than 2pc with around 1,000 cases just last week, climbed to 2.91pc with 1,400 cases being reported in past one day.

Meanwhile, another consignment of around two million doses of Sinopharm is expected to arrive here from China on Sunday (today) as the government is making all-out efforts to boost vaccination.

‘Fake entries in Punjab’

The Punjab primary and secondary healthcare department has taken notice of fake entries at Covid-19 vaccination centres.

According to a press release, the healthcare department secretary has constituted a fact-finding committee to monitor vaccine stocks. “Amid Covid-19 mass vaccination drive in Punjab, it was discovered that vaccinators and data entry operators were doing fake entries,” the statement added.

An official of the Ministry of National Health Services, requesting not to quoted, said vaccination staff could also be involved in fake entries but the trend was also witnessed among visitors to different vaccination centres.

“We have observed that some people come to vaccination centres and after registration they leave rather than going in the hall for vaccination. We have been trying to address the issue but people should understand that it is in their benefit to get them vaccinated,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2021

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