Air­blue, Sha­heen de­cline to ac­cept PIA tick­ets

The Pak Banker - - NATIONAL -

Con­fu­sion per­sists on ar­range­ments made by Pak­istan In­ter­na­tional Air­lines (PIA) to ac­com­mo­date pas­sen­gers af­fected by a coun­try-wide strike as pri­vate car­ri­ers Air­blue and Sha­heen Air­lines de­clined to ac­cept pas­sen­gers hold­ing PIA tick­ets.

With over 350 flights can­celled since the strike against the govern­ment's pro­posed plan to pri­va­tise the na­tional air­line com­menced, the PIA man­age­ment an­nounced on Thurs­day an agree­ment with Air­blue and Sha­heen Air­lines to fa­cil­i­tate thou­sands of do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional pas­sen­gers af­fected by the strike.

"An agree­ment has been reached with Air­blue to ac­cept pas­sen­gers with con­firmed PIA tick­ets for flights to Karachi, Is­lam­abad, La­hore, Dubai, Mus­cat, Jed­dah and Riyadh," an of­fi­cial state­ment is­sued by PIA had said.

An­other press re­lease stated, "PIA has also fi­nalised ar­range­ments with Sha­heen Air to ac­cept such pas­sen­gers for do­mes­tic flights. Pas­sen­gers may con­tact PIA's serv- ice coun­ters at air­ports to con­vert their tick­ets to th­ese pri­vate air­lines. The pas­sen­gers hav­ing PIA's con­firmed tick­ets at any in­ter­na­tional desti­na­tion can also con­tact PIA's staff in their re­spec­tive coun­tries for con­ver­sion of their tick­ets. They will also be ad­justed in var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional air­lines," How­ever, anx­ious pas­sen­gers at ma­jor air­ports suf­fered as the pri­vate car­ri­ers re­fused to fa­cil­i­tate them. When con­tacted, an Air­blue cus­tomer ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tive told me­dia that Air­blue is cur­rently not ac­cept­ing pas­sen­gers booked on PIA flights with con­firmed tick­ets.

"The man­age­ment has not given any in­struc­tions to fa­cil­i­tate pas­sen­gers hold­ing PIA tick­ets as yet," said Maryam, a cus­tomer ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tive, with­out giv­ing fur­ther de­tails. Like­wise, a Sha­heen Air­lines cus­tomer ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tive said the car­rier is not ac­com­mo­dat­ing PIA pas­sen­gers.

When ques­tioned about the agree­ment be­tween PIA and Sha­heen Air­lines - as an­nounced by the for­mer - Asad, the cus­tomer ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tive claimed the re­ports were "only ru­mors". Sha­heen Air­lines' se­nior man­age­ment has de­nied an agree­ment with PIA, he said.

When con­tacted, a PIA spokesman said an agree­ment be­tween PIA and Air­blue and Sha­heen Air­lines had taken place how­ever, the pri­vate car­ri­ers were re­fus­ing to ac­cept PIA pas­sen­gers with­out en­dorse­ment on their ticket by PIA man­age­ment. Ef­forts to set up PIA coun­ters at air­ports to en­dorse tick­ets failed, "be­cause em­ploy­ees were threat­ened by union work­ers", said spokesper­son Danyal Gi­lani. PIA as­sures its cus­tomers that full amount for their tick­ets will be re­funded "with­out ask­ing any ques­tions or de­duct­ing any charges", he said. The spokesper­son added that the air­line was mak­ing ef­forts to stream­line the process of ac­com­mo­dat­ing pas­sen­gers in pri­vate air­lines' flights.Around 200 pas­sen­gers were left aban­doned at Is­lam­abad's Be­nazir Bhutto In­ter­na­tional Air­port on Fri­day, af­ter pri­vate car­ri­ers re­fused to let them board flights in ex­change for their PIA con­firmed tick­ets.

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