ISLAMABAD, April 24: A fraud has been detected in Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) when a travel agency received letters from the national carrier asking it to deposit over Rs479,000 to recover the loss suffered by the airline as international travels had been made on domestic tickets sold by it.

PIA’s Passenger Sales Manager (PSM) Farooq Ibrahim Khan through two different letters informed Masood Janjua and Rana Mehtab Ahmed, the owners of an IATA-approved travel agency, that 10 domestic tickets issued by them for Islamabad-Peshawar- Islamabad sector had been “manipulated” and used for Islamabad- Amsterdam-Islamabad, Islamabad-Oslo-Islamabad and Lahore- Amsterdam-Lahore sectors by “disfiguring the entire tickets”.

“This fraudulent action on your part resulted in a financial loss to the company and the management has taken a very serious view of this deceitful activity,” says the PSM in his letters. Interestingly, the PIA has asked the travel agents to themselves “investigate the matter and explain their findings to avoid any further administrative action”.

On the other hand, Rana Mehtab Ahmed, the chief executive of the travel agency with its office in Blue Area, denies the charges and claims that all the tickets in question have been reprinted on “saber system” with the changed ticket numbers and same stock numbers which is only used by the PIA offices.

Mr Ahmed questioned as to why the airline and the immigration staff failed to detect the fraud despite the fact that all the passengers travelled from Pakistan to Oslo and Amsterdam and then back to the country within 10 days on these tampered tickets. He also claimed that similar cases had been detected in other cities like Rawalpindi, Sialkot and Faisalabad.

Mr Ahmed said he would move court against PIA, as the airline had lifted tickets stock from his travel agency without issuing any notice. He said after receiving the letter on April 1, he referred the matter to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) which had asked the PIA management to present the original documents and complete travel record of the passengers, who had travelled on the forged tickets.

Mr Ahmed said the tickets, which had been fraudulently used on international sectors, had been purchased by Mirza Afzal Baig, a resident of Kashmiri Mohallah, Gujar Khan, on February 9. He said Mr Baig had purchased 15 tickets and PIA had informed him that 10 of these tickets had been tampered with and used on international routes with different names. He claimed the coupons of the original tickets must be lying with the PIA’s finance department declaring them as “void”.

The PIA letter shows that the tickets were used by Omaima Sheikh and Alyan Sheikh (child) on Islamabad-Amsterdam- Islamabad sector, while Riffat Shahzadi had travelled on Lahore- Amsterdam-Lahore sector.

Similarly, seven passengers namely Mohammad Amjad, Naroona Amjad, Sabeen Anwar, Hashir Amjad (child), Ahmed Amjad (child), Fahad Amjad and Daud Amjad (child) travelled on these tickets on Islamabad-Oslo-Islamabad sector.

Meanwhile, a senior PIA official told Dawn on condition of anonymity that it was true that similar cases had also been detected in other cities. When asked to name the cities, he said, for the moment he could only confirm the name of Faisalabad.

The official said an internal inquiry had been ordered by the management to find out those responsible for making reservations on these fake tickets. He said they were collecting purge record from various offices so that they could find out the particulars of those who had travelled on these fake tickets.

The official said it seemed that data from the original ticket coupons was rubbed and then reprinted. However, he was unable to reply as to how such a crime could be committed without involvement of the PIA staff, saying: “Everything will become clear when we will complete investigations”.

When asked why the travel agent had been asked to deposit the money when the matter was still under investigation, he said, if the travel agent was found innocent the money would be refunded.

PIA’s public relations general manager Samina Pervez, when contacted, said it was true that at least 15 cases had been detected in Islamabad.

When asked whether any action had been taken against the PIA staff in Oslo or Amsterdam for their connivance in facilitating travelling on fake tickets, she said the travel agent had confessed that he had committed the fraud and agreed to deposit the money.

Opinion

Editorial

Another lynching
Updated 22 Jun, 2024

Another lynching

The chilling alternative to not doing anything — which appears to be the state’s preferred option — is the advent of mob rule.
Tax & representation
22 Jun, 2024

Tax & representation

THE taxation measures outlined in the budget for the incoming fiscal year have triggered a lot of concern among ...
Life of the party?
22 Jun, 2024

Life of the party?

THE launch of Awaam Pakistan, a party led by former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former finance minister...
KP’s ‘power struggle’
Updated 21 Jun, 2024

KP’s ‘power struggle’

Instead of emboldening protesters, CM Gandapur should encourage his provincial subjects to clear their due bills and ensure theft is minimised.
Journalist’s murder
21 Jun, 2024

Journalist’s murder

ANOTHER name has been added to the list of journalists murdered in Pakistan. On Tuesday, Khalil Jibran’s vehicle...
A leaner government?
21 Jun, 2024

A leaner government?

FINANCE Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb has reiterated his government’s ‘commitment’ to shutting down ministries...