Airblue GM (Commercial) Raheel Ahmed said on Saturday that the families of 63 out of 138 passengers, who died in the Airblue plane crash last year, had received Rs5 million each in compensation.
Speaking at a conference on “Aviation and Travel Industry: Promoting a Soft Image of Pakistan” organised by Investment and Marketing Conferences, Ahmed said that the delay in compensation for the rest of the families was because of legal reasons. “Families of the crash victims are required to produce a certificate of succession to receive compensation,” he said.
Airblue Flight 202 crashed on July 28, 2010, near Islamabad, killing 138 passengers and six crew members.
Ahmed said that Airblue had received certificates of succession from 73 families. “It takes three to four weeks for a family to receive the compensation package once it has submitted the certificate of succession,” he said.
Ahmed said that Airblue also helped many families with Rs50,000 because they couldn’t afford to engage a lawyer to get the certificate of succession from court.
Ahmed said that immediately after the crash, Airblue had paid 132 families Rs550,000 each as “initial compensation.” The rest of the families approached Airblue through their attorneys, he said. “We thought initial compensation was necessary, especially for the families that needed immediate monetary help,” he said.
He criticised the media for sensationalising the crash and spreading what he called “conspiracy theories.”
He said that after 9/11, Americans turned fire-fighters into heroes for their brave response to the tragedy. He expressed his disappointment that the Pakistani media didn’t report the efforts of rescue workers who reached the site of the crash in the absence of a vertical trail.
Speaking on the occasion, PIA Deputy Managing Director Salim Sayani said that despite poor law and order, floods and other difficulties, PIA achieved double-digit growth in revenue in the last two years.
However, he said, the profit margin declined in the same period. “Business person don’t travel in and out of Pakistan anymore,” he said.
Sayani said that the number of tourists travelling to Pakistan decreased after the 9/11 attacks. “Out of PIA’s seven million passengers, only 100,000 are pure tourists. In 2000, PIA had one million passengers who could be described as tourists. In 2010, the number declined to 100,000,” he said.
He said that India had a 48 per cent share in the regional tourism industry. He attributed the success of India’s tourism industry to its “meticulous” marketing strategy. He added that the Maldives entertained 200 per cent more tourists than Pakistan.
Irfan Ahmed, CEO of chutti.pk, Pakistan’s first travel and tour portal, said Egypt had set aside $50 million to promote tourism this year and a substantial part of it would be spent online. “The message is that Tahrir Square is over. Tourists should come back,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2011.