KARACHI: Pakistan International Airlines has finally come to the rescue of the Pakistani passengers who have been stranded in China since July 29 due to the cancellation of Shaheen Air International’s flight, as PIA is expected to send its aircraft to China probably on Sunday night.
Keeping in view the hardship being faced by the stranded Pakistani passengers, PIA has agreed to send its aircraft on a request of the SAI, said PIA spokesperson Mashhood Tajwar while responding to Dawn queries on Saturday.
However, he said, permissions would have to be sought from India to overfly its territory as PIA did not have a service to Guangzhou. Besides, sparing an aircraft for the special flight would be a challenge as PIA’s Haj operation is under way.
Earlier, the SAI had approached PIA to get its passengers back home. The SAI representative, Zoheb Hassan, said: “The SAI had asked PIA to bring back the passengers on commercial terms but we are still waiting for PIA’s reply.”
The CAA had previously allowed the SAI to send its aircraft to bring back the stranded passengers. But when the SAI was about to operate the flight, CAA inspectors found out that the SAI aircraft was faulty. The CAA did not allow the SAI to send that aircraft on “technical grounds”, said CAA spokesperson Pervez George.
The SAI asked the PIA to bring back the passengers when it could not arrange another aircraft.
The CAA had suspended the SAI’s flight operations, except Haj flights, over non-payment of over Rs1.5 billion dues to the authority.
The SAI was providing hotel accommodation and food to the stranded passengers, while it had refunded the money to many of the passengers, said a representative of the airline.