RAHIM YAR KHAN: A Pakistani expat woman and her son were disallowed on Friday to travel by a Jeddah-bound flight of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) from Multan, despite having “all the required travel documents” of their pet cat.

Ms Humaira Shahid, a resident of Ravi Town, RYK, told reporters that she was scheduled to return to Jeddah from Multan through the PIA flight PK-739, with her son and their pet cat.

She said that after being issued boarding passes, they were going to the departure lounge when two PIA officials — Asghar and Ibrar — stopped them and asked for the documents of the brown and white Persian+Himalyian male cat “Oreo”.

Ms Shahid said that she showed the officials “all the relevant documents”, including the pet’s passport, Althaqafi Veterinary Clinic KSA, rabies vaccination certificate, test report issued by the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore, Ministry of National Food, Security and Research Animal Quarantine Department (Animal Health Certificate), but they refused to allow them to board the plane.

Levels bribe allegations, airline claims she had incomplete documents of pet cat

She alleged that the two PIA officials initially demanded Rs200,000 bribe and later asked her to pay them Rs100,000, for allowing her to travel with the pet.

She said when she refused to grease their palm, the officials stopped her from boarding the flight.

A PIA spokesperson, Abdullah Hafeez Khan, rejected the allegation of bribe against the two officials as false and termed it an attempt to blackmail the airlines.

He further told that the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), KSA, released a notification for airlines, applicable from January 8, 2023, declaring it necessary for the owners to submit import/export applications for their pet animals through a new electronic link (https;//naama.sa.).

Under the notification, the passengers not fulfilling the requirement were denied travel facility with their pets, he claimed.

However, Khan said that airlines would sue the passengers for leveling a “false” allegations against the PIA officials.

DESTINATION CHANGED: The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Saturday changed the destination of the passengers returning to Multan from Jeddah, issuing them boarding cards for an Islamabad-bound flight without giving any reason.

Habibullah, a resident of Abbasia Town, RYK, told this correspondent from Jeddah airport that he, with dozens of other passengers belonging to RYK, was issued the boarding cards for an Islamabad-bound PIA flight, instead of Multan.

He said he had purchased a return ticket (No 2142420892306 Multan-Madina-Jeddah-Multan) before leaving the country to perform Ummrah.

But, he said, that he and other passengers intending to travel to Multan were told by the PIA staff at the Jeddah airport that the flight would now land at Islamabad airport, without giving any reason.

He said that when the passengers complained about the issue to the PIA counter manager, he didn’t gave any reason.

PIA spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez Khan did not attend the call made on his phone by this scribe to know his stance.

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2023

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