KARACHI: The anxious relatives were teary but the passengers were all smiles as they arrived safely home on Sunday morning after their Pakistan International Airlines flight PK 782 was stopped in Stockholm over security concerns.
The flight landed at Jinnah International Airport at 7:40 am with 254 passengers, a PIA spokesman said. On PIA MD Captain Aijaz Haroon’s instructions, the passengers were received by Passenger Handling Services General Manager Aijaz Mazhar and Public Relations General Manager Syed Sultan Hassan and senior officials, who presented them bouquets of flowers.
The passengers were given refreshments at the Karachi airport lounge on their arrival from Manchester. The plane had made a stopover at Manchester airport after resuming its flight from Stockholm. Captain Latif Farooq and First Officer Irfan went to the UK to bring them back.
The alert began after a woman in Canada called the police from a payphone to say a man on board had explosives on him. The Boeing 777 was diverted to Sweden while en route from Toronto to Karachi.
“When the pilot announced that the airplane would be landing in Stockholm, all of us were surprised and confused,” said passenger Zehra while talking to Daily Express, upon her arrival at Karachi. “He said the reason for the landing was security concerns.”
According to Zehra, security officials at Sweden checked all the baggage onboard and removed a suspicious individual from the flight. The aircraft remained on the ground for about nine and a half hours, and the passengers were in the international transit lounge for six hours. They were provided food and drinks and blankets, and infants were given milk and diapers.
No explosives were found on board or on a Canadian passenger detained by the police, police said. “News of a bomb would have scared us, because anything can happen when you’re in the air,” said passenger Inaam. “The captain’s constant communication with us was what kept us all calm.”
Passengers praised the way PIA had handled the situation, saying that the captain and cabin crew kept them informed of what was happening throughout their wait. “I was afraid when I heard about an emergency landing, but the announcements by the staff comforted me a lot,” said a child.
Another passenger lauded the composed, controlled behaviour of the captain and crew. “The confidence of the PIA staff and the services they provided for passengers while they waited in Stockholm were commendable,” said a foreign passenger. “They remained in contact with us every moment of our wait.”
Passengers included a Canadian, two Japanese and an American national.
PIA’s Aijaz Mazhar and Sultan Hassan said that the management, including the MD, was on its toes from the minute they found out about the plane’s emergency landing. They were in constant contact with Ambassador Nadeem Riyaz, who went to the airport and helped to speed up the process.
The passengers received complimentary 3,000-point awards and miles on frequent flyer cards as well as a guarantee that they would be provided additional facilities on PIA flights. They will be able to avail a rebate on a domestic or international flight tickets as well.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Airline Pilots Association (Palpa) president Sohail Baloch has said that the association will stand by the PIA management in case of any emergency. “Palpa will cooperate with the PIA MD in these cases and assist passengers and the management,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 27th, 2010.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ