RAWALPINDI, July 17: Thousands of passengers were stranded at the airports across the country on Sunday because of a strike by PIA’s People’s Unity Union in protest against the killing of its chairman.
The strike disrupted the airline’s flight schedule, causing immense hardship to thousands of passengers.
People’s Unity chairman Amir Shah and his friend Khalid were gunned down in Karachi on Saturday.
The protest started on Saturday night when the check-in for Karachi-bound flight PK-319 was in progress at the Benazir Bhutto International airport.
It is reported that some union members came to the briefing counter and requested the passengers to wait for some time because they were on a token strike.
After a brief protest PIA personnel started clearing the passengers and closed the check-in on time.
But on Sunday morning, thousands of passengers, including foreigners, were stranded for hours at airports in Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi, not knowing when their flight would take off.
At Karachi airport, 44 flights—27 domestic and 17 international—were delayed or cancelled.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik who left for Karachi on a special plane on Sunday evening told reporters outside the Rawal Lounge that the killers of Amir Shah would be arrested soon. At the BBI airport, thousands of passengers were stuck when flights for Gilgit and Chitral and one for Lahore were cancelled.
In the morning, it was announced that the flight operation would resume at 11:30am, but a PIA flight for Karachi PK-301, which was scheduled for 10am, took off at 4:30pm.
Sajjad Akbar who was travelling with his family for Karachi said he had already visited the airport in the morning for the 10am flight, but was told that it would take off at 1pm. Eventually it left the airport at 4:30pm.
Private airlines, however, maintained their schedule.
A senior PIA official said here that the flight schedule had been badly disrupted and 20 flights (domestic and international) from the BBI had been disrupted.