Airblue, Shaheen decline to accept PIA tickets
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.