PIA will ground six ATR aircraft by Aug 3, says official

Court seeks progress report on inspection of aeroplanes, rebukes for poor state of facilities

Our Correspondent March 19, 2021


A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) official assured the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday that all six ATR aircraft of the national flag carrier would be grounded by August 3, 2021.

He shared the information as a two member-bench of the SHC, comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Amjad Ali Sahito, inquired about measures taken to prevent plane crashes.

The bench, which was hearing a plea pertaining to probe into the ATR crash incident in Havelian in December 2016, sought a report on the inspection of aircraft from air vigilance authorities.

Read: EU aviation watchdog satisfied with CAA's safety standards

Besides, the counsel for PIA told the court that the petitioner had submitted some documents at the last hearing and the national flag carrier had submitted a reply on those.

"Reply submitted by PIA comprises documents that have already been submitted [to the court] and the photocopies of the same have been submitted again," the counsel said.

When Justice Mazhar inquired about the steps taken to prevent air crashes in the future, the PIA official, besides stating that six of the national flag carriers would be grounded by August 3, informed the court that the PIA had 20 aircraft, all of which were regularly inspected by the Civil Aviation Authority.

At that, Justice Sahito remarked on the poor state of facilities available in PIA aircraft.

"Screens often do not work, food quality is substandard and most times, no comforter is available," he said. "And when asked [about the lack of facilities], they [the crew] reply that a new [PIA] head has been appointed and there are not enough funds."

To that, the officials assured the court that things were now changing for the better and that significant improvements could be seen within two months.

The court directed air vigilance authorities to submit a report on the inspection of aircraft at the next hearing on April 15.

Missing persons

Separately, a two-member bench, comprising Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto and Justice Abdul Mobeen Lakho, sought a progress report from the investigation SSP in a plea seeking the recovery of a missing person, Saad, the son of Pasban Pakistan leader Usman Moazzam.

At the hearing, the investigation officer told the court that information about Saad had been sought from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa IGP and it was being ascertained whether Saad was in a detention centre.

Read more: Grounded PIA plane arrives in Pakistan

The court directed the SSP to submit a progress report on the matter within three weeks.

At the hearing of another plea seeking the recovery of a citizen, Sameer Khan, who had been missing for five years, the same bench sought a progress report from Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) officials.

Beseeching the court for the recovery of her son, Khan's mother said, "Everybody [authorities] knows where my son is."

The CTD operations-I SSP also said that Khan was not a terrorist and assured that he would try his best to recover him.

Justice Phulpoto assured Khan's mother of the same.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2021.


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