FIA needs to ‘man up’ at Karachi airport, PM told

CAA DG says agency needs to overcome personnel shortage at immigration counters

Our Correspondent April 19, 2024
Jinnah International Airport, Karachi. PHOTO: FILE


Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Director General Flt Lt (retd) Khaqan Murtaza on Thursday said he had informed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif that if the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) overcame its shortage of manpower at the Karachi airport, the problem of long immigration queues there would not arise.

“Over 20 [immigration] counters have been provided to the FIA at the Karachi airport,” the CAA DG told the participants of the authority’s 44th open Karachi organized in the port city.

According to a CAA statement, the CAA DG pointed out that our region was known for drug trafficking.

“Unfortunately, drugs are seized at some airport in the country every day,” he continued. “Most of those convicted in the Middle East [for drug trafficking] belong to Pakistan, tarnishing the country’s image.”

The CAA DG stressed the need for strict checking of baggage at the country’s airports for the sake of national dignity.

The official replied to queries in connection with the outsourcing of the country’s three major airports – those in Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi. He said after the outsourcing, clear positive changes would be observed in airport service delivery.

Murtaza informed the participants that the manager of the Islamabad airport had been directed to investigate the incident of alleged extortion of money by police wardens in the parking lot.

“In the recent past, such elements were removed from near the airport exit and the beggars were handed over to the police from the parking lot,” he explained.
The CAA DG said its manager had been instructed to monitor the prices of food items being sold at the airport.

Murtaza clarified that because of the outsourcing of the Islamabad International Airport, long-term commercial concession agreements could not be entered there. The CAA DG informed the participants of the gathering that the expansion work of the Lahore airport building would be resumed soon.

He continued that if the expansion work was unsatisfactory, the company carrying it out would be changed. The CAA DG observed that there were cultural reasons for the unnecessary crowdedness at the country’s airports.

He told the airport managers to prepare recommendations to address this problem.
Murtaza recalled that the ‘one guest with a passenger’ policy had been successfully implemented in the past.

The CAA DG further said the Airport Security Force (ASF) had charge-sheeted its officer, who had misbehaved with a minor girl at the Karachi airport last month. He added that the CAA was in touch with the ASF over this incident.

Murtaza noted that airlines only chose profitable routes and that was why two private airlines were not flying to Quetta as there were not enough passengers.

However, he continued that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and two private airlines were operating in the provincial capital of Balochistan.

The CAA DG informed the gathering that flights were delayed to the Middle East because of the “abnormal” weather there.

In a related development, a PIA spokesperson said in a statement that the airline’s flights to the UAE were affected by the recent torrential rains in Sharjah and Dubai.
The spokesperson added that the PIA’s normal flight operations in the UAE would resume when the weather situation improved there.

The passengers of the canceled flights are being accommodated on the next ones on a priority basis.

The spokesperson continued that other than that, more flights were also being planned to the UAE.

He requested the passengers of the canceled flights to contact the PIA call center at 786786111 for further information.


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