- Flight scheduled to land in China faces nine-hour delay
- CJP directs airline to ensure passengers return to Pakistan before Aug 6
LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Friday took notice of the Pakistani passengers stranded at Guangzhou airport in China and summoned Shaheen Airline owner to appear before the apex later in the week.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar heard the case at the Lahore Registry and directed the owner of the airline to appear before the court on August 7.
The airline’s regional director informed the bench that “all airlines, with the exception of Saudi airlines, had been cancelled at Guangzhou airport”, adding that “Shaheen Air operates flights from Lahore to Guangzhou”.
However, Justice Ijazul Ahsan countered that “China Airline’s flights for Guangzhou leave from Islamabad every day.”
“If Shaheen Air wants to save money then that’s another matter,” he added.
Furthermore, CJP Nisar directed the airline official to ensure that all stranded passengers are brought back to the country before August 6 and ordered the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to present a report on the condition of the aircraft that will be carrying the passengers from China.
Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua told the court that only “46 passengers of the originally reported figure of 300 Pakistanis are still in Guangzhou”.
The airline official, however, told the court that the airline has been “permitted to send a flight to China at 3:00 pm on Friday”.
Earlier in the day, it was reported by Shaheen Air officials that the flight scheduled to bring back the stranded Pakistanis in Guangzhou, China suffered hours-long delay, adding that “the flight, which was initially scheduled to land at 1:30 pm in Guangzhou, has been delayed by nine hours and would now land at 10:30 pm on Friday night”.
Earlier, the airline’s Marketing Director Zohaib Hassan had said that the airline will bring back the Pakistanis via flight NL 892 and NL 891 on August 3, 2018.
The Pakistan Foreign Office had also taken notice of the issue on Thursday and stated that the Pakistani Consulate was making arrangements for those passengers whose visas had expired.
FO Spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal had said, “Out of the 46 that remain stranded, visas of only 15 passengers have expired and the Pakistani consulate is making arrangements for that.” He had added that “the remaining passengers managed to reach Pakistan by taking other flights”.
Moreover, the CAA had granted ‘special permission’ to Shaheen Air International to bring back 300 Pakistanis stranded in Guangzhou.
According to media reports, a CAA spokesperson had said that the airline is in debt of over Rs1.5 billion and is only allowed to operate for Hajj flights.
Most of the passengers hail from Chaman district of Balochistan and had been stranded at the Guangzhou airport after the flight was cancelled on July 29 and the airline was barred from landing any plane at the airport as heavy taxes had been imposed on the airline.
On June 22, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had briefly sealed off the central office of Shaheen Air in Karachi, over non-payment of Rs910 million in Federal Excise Duty (FED).
According to the revenue authority, the office was ordered to be reopened after the private airline provided it with two cheques worth Rs910 million.
Prior to that, the central office of the airline was sealed off after talks between FBR officials and Shaheen Air administration failed.
Earlier in May, the FBR had asked CAA to suspend Shaheen’s local flight operations over failure to pay the FED.