Thu. Dec 3rd, 2020

PIA: Cancellation of Skardu and Gilgit bound flights a drain on patience and pockets

This family has been visiting the airport for the last five days. In the process they have spent around 10,000 rupees as taxi fare. Photo: Zulfiqar Ali Khan

PT Report

Islamabad, March 19: The Pakistan International Airlines operates flights to Skardu and Gilgit whenever the weather is not naughty or when there are no technical glitches. Many say that the mood of the pilot also plays a pivotal role in determining whether a flight will be operated or not on a particular day.

For the last five days, PIA has regularly been cancelling flights to Gilgit and Skardu, leaving hundreds of passengers, including women and children, disgruntled.

This family has been visiting the airport for the last five days. In the process they have spent around 10,000 rupees as taxi fare. Photo: Zulfiqar Ali Khan
This family has been visiting the airport for the last five days. In the process they have spent around 10,000 rupees as taxi fare. Photo: Zulfiqar Ali Khan

The story of this family from Baltistan is not different. They have been coming to the airport for the last five days with the hope of getting a flight. Their hopes were shattered even today (Wednesday) when the authorities announced cancellation of the flight two hours before the schedule, on some unexplained technical grounds. The head of the family told Pamir Times that he had paid around 10,000 rupees during the last five days to taxis for moving between the airport and his residence in Islamabad. His family is not the only one suffering the same fate though. More than 40 people, mostly women, elders and children, have regularly been visiting the airport everyday.

Ironically, when the passengers had dispersed today after announcement of cancellation, the authorities suddenly changed their mind and requested the passengers (who had already left) to board the flight to Skardu.
The mismanagement and confusion created by the PIA authorities has been a cause of great troubles for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan.
The passengers dispersed after assurance by PIA authorities. Photo: Zulfiqar Ali Khan
The passengers dispersed after assurance by PIA authorities. Photo: Zulfiqar Ali Khan

It is pertinent that people are forced to travel by air because of the insecurities created by acts of terrorism as well as the omnipresent threat of natural disasters on the Karakuram Highway. The inefficiency and ill-planning of PIA, however, makes sure that the people choosing the “Bakamal” service do not enjoy their travel through air also.

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