Another scandal: Drunk PIA pilot arrested at Leeds

Published: September 20, 2013
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The back-to-back incidents particularly the case of the pilot have unnerved Pakistan’s aviation officials. PHOTO: FILE.

The back-to-back incidents particularly the case of the pilot have unnerved Pakistan’s aviation officials. PHOTO: FILE.

KARACHI: 

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) once again came under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons as a tipsy pilot was apprehended in England while he was boarding an aircraft carrying 180 passengers.

Co-pilot Captain Irfan Faiz Chishti, 54, was taken into custody by British police at the Leeds Bradford International Airport on suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol as he headed to fly a plane back to Islamabad on Wednesday.

“At about 10pm last night police were called to Leeds Bradford International Airport where they arrested an airline pilot on suspicion of carrying out an activity ancillary to an aviation function while impaired by drink,” the London police said according to AFP.

A PIA official said that Captain Irfan Faiz, who is the son of General Faiz Ali Chisti, was stopped by security officials at the airport during routine screening. “He appeared drowsy and was stopped on suspicion. Then they checked his alcohol level, which came out to be high.”

“The pilot has been suspended. The airline will take strongest action against him and all those involved in such conduct,” an airline spokesman said on Thursday. “The PIA will not provide any legal assistance in such cases.”

A strong-worded statement of airline said the PIA was not responsible for the misconduct of its employees and apologised to passengers of flight PK-776, which departed after a delay of 15 hours.

In England, legal alcohol limit is 20 milligrams in 100ml of blood – a quarter of that for car drivers. The pilot faces two years of imprisonment, if convicted.

The incident happened just a day after three male flight attendants of the PIA were arrested by Manchester police after a British woman who travelled on Karachi-Lahore-Manchester flight on Tuesday lodged a harassment complaint against them.

The PIA has also suspended the three stewards, the spokesman said.

The back-to-back incidents particularly the case of the pilot have unnerved Pakistan’s aviation officials.

“We are still reeling under the restrictions imposed by European Union on some of our aircraft seven years back,” said a senior airline official. “This is bad, very, very bad for us,” he added.

Captain Irfan Faiz was involved in a similar incident a couple of years back when he tried to operate an ATR plane while intoxicated.

Due to unavailability of any alternative captain, the flight had to make a night stop at Leeds. Later the flight departed with a delay of 15 hrs. The PIA in a statement regretted the inconvenience caused to its ‘valued passengers’. The pilot is still in the custody of British Police for further investigation.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (65)

  • Sehr Siddiqui
    Sep 20, 2013 - 3:35AM

    This pilot shall be promoted, I bet. This is what the history tells us.Recommend

  • Dj
    Sep 20, 2013 - 3:48AM

    “The pilot has been suspended. The airline will take strongest action against him and all those involved in such conduct,” an airline spokesman said on Thursday. “The PIA will not provide any legal assistance in such cases.
    By next week everybody would have forgotten this and the pilot would be on board a plane to Europe.

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  • NMA
    Sep 20, 2013 - 3:59AM

    Another first for PIA….. The first airline where passengers are not served booze but crew is !!!

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  • Haris Chaudhry
    Sep 20, 2013 - 4:16AM

    State of PIA is the actual reflection of the State of Pakistan !

    Rotten to the core !

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  • Pak
    Sep 20, 2013 - 4:23AM

    This has happened with other airlines too, totally out of order and putting passengers lives at risk. Hope he is dealt a harsh punishment.

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  • A. Khan
    Sep 20, 2013 - 5:06AM

    This pilot should have been fired after the first instance. He is an accident waiting to happen. A few years in prison should sober him up. But I am not holding my breath such is the power of PALPA. On the other hand, it is a good time as any to take on PALPA. Gone are the days when PIA was the only airline and the entire nation could be held hostage. Teach PALPA a lesson as well.

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  • Ahmed
    Sep 20, 2013 - 5:13AM

    I wonder if the several unions will support the pilot/stewards this time saying it’s a conspiracy just like they do every time privatization comes up. These are the real hyenas and vultures responsible for the down slide and the embarrassment they cause us and Pakistan time and again.Naturally, with no accountability it is little surprise these incidents keep happening and of course it had to be foreign soil for them to get caught. What shame!

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  • Saleem
    Sep 20, 2013 - 5:16AM

    Not much can be expected from PIA nor Pakistani government. I wish if proven then he be given maximum sentence allowed in Britain, where there is no tolerance for incidents like this. It surprises me that this pilot has done something similar in the past then why he has not been fired, without any benefits of course. Also, those who let this incidence go needs to be punished as well.

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  • Waseem
    Sep 20, 2013 - 5:40AM

    Fire him and blacklist him for life.

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  • Sall90
    Sep 20, 2013 - 6:20AM

    He might have crashed if not drunk.

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  • Aysha M
    Sep 20, 2013 - 6:21AM

    moral bankruptcy of pakistani society

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  • Citizen Kane
    Sep 20, 2013 - 6:22AM

    If Denzel Washington can do it drunk, why can’t Chishti?

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  • Zaida P
    Sep 20, 2013 - 6:25AM

    A Muslim can never do this.

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  • Nonliberal
    Sep 20, 2013 - 6:47AM

    Looks like the Indian trolls will have a field day today reading this. It is amazing whilst most world media hides their shortcomings we put them on front headlines asking the world to have a laugh at us. Please don’t defame Pakistan, these one-off incidents happen everywhere. Not a very big deal.Recommend

  • Leela
    Sep 20, 2013 - 6:54AM

    Isn’t there a punishment of 80 lashes on the books for a muslim that drinks alcohol in Pakistan? How about enforcing the rule of law?

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  • Raj - USA
    Sep 20, 2013 - 7:07AM

    He probably got inspiration from Dezel Washington’s movie “Flight”.

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  • Latif
    Sep 20, 2013 - 7:48AM

    I don’t understand what the big deal is… Don’t British authorities know planes practically fly themselves?

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  • Jibran Iqbal
    Sep 20, 2013 - 7:51AM

    This is the mother of embarrassments. I am in the UK and my colleagues are making joke about Pakistani pilots.

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  • Sep 20, 2013 - 7:52AM

    The incident happened just a day after three male flight attendants of the PIA were arrested by Manchester police after a British woman who travelled on Karachi-Lahore-Manchester flight on Tuesday lodged a harassment complaint against them.

    ???

    Is this the same PIA of the 1950s/60s…?

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  • csmann
    Sep 20, 2013 - 7:55AM

    Son of a General. Do we think anybody can do anything to him?

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  • Jawad
    Sep 20, 2013 - 8:31AM

    Of all the articles I read this week my heart sank the most when I read this. The shooting and bomb blasts in Karachi did not affect me as much. In the 60’s PIA provided training for Singapore Airlines. PIA stands for everything that is wrong with Pakistan.

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  • Raza
    Sep 20, 2013 - 8:35AM

    Masha Allah Masha Allah, again we have made into international headlines

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  • Talking Point
    Sep 20, 2013 - 8:37AM

    Give him a taste of his own medicine by making him pilot an empty plane while he is still intoxicated . He would either go up to meet OUR father or , if lucky with himself and the PIA maintained aircraft , come down to meet HIS father (:)

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  • haroon
    Sep 20, 2013 - 8:41AM

    He will escape punishment in Pakistan by Paying Diyat to the 180 families whose life his risked.

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  • Sodomite
    Sep 20, 2013 - 8:41AM

    Gentlemen you seemed to have missed the obvious; he is General Chishti’s son, commander of X Corp HQed in Rawalpindi 1976-80. Remember these dates? Coup against ZAB took place in July 1977. No one in Pakistan would have touched him had he been operating the flight. Thank God it was the English who apprehended him where phone calls don’t work. Its people with such backgrounds we need to fear.

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  • Sodomite
    Sep 20, 2013 - 8:46AM

    @NMA:
    You are so right. PIA’s crew come to work intoxicated. It must be such a lousy job that the crew needs drink before working. I hope the English Judge sends him to jail where we can drink all year long. For flight delays EU rules are that the airline has to give Euro 600 per head plus accommodation. PIA will have to fork this out plus 15 hours additional airport parking fee.

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  • H.A. Khan
    Sep 20, 2013 - 8:50AM

    Happy Hour at the pub is to be blamed……….
    What a shame…..Recommend

  • sher
    Sep 20, 2013 - 8:53AM

    I bet this guy is going to be let off the hook too, what else do you expect from the Pakistani government .Total disgrace .

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  • Tunda
    Sep 20, 2013 - 9:13AM

    This is by nature of pakistan nothing else world know about pakistan.

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  • Bloody Civilian
    Sep 20, 2013 - 9:18AM

    “Captain Irfan Faiz, who is the son of General Faiz Ali Chisti”
    .
    I personally know a few more sons of our sacred generals and am not surprised.

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  • Razi
    Sep 20, 2013 - 9:19AM

    A few years ago Cathay Pacific fired their Chief 777 Pilot for doing a celebratory low fly-by upon taking delivery of a new aircraft. The reason given was putting the safety of the aircraft and crew at risk. This is how you set examples.

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  • Sodomite
    Sep 20, 2013 - 9:21AM

    @Nonliberal:
    You wanted the flight to go down in flames. To you that would be no big deal.

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  • rmk28
    Sep 20, 2013 - 9:26AM

    PIA: Pray Immediately to Allah

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  • Sep 20, 2013 - 9:35AM

    @Citizen Kane: Good one. Yes, if Denzel Washington can do it, why can’t we? Maybe, he wanted to try a few stunts from the movie, “Flight.”
    Remember the golden rule: “Once a paindoo, always a paindoo.” Salams

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  • SGJ007
    Sep 20, 2013 - 11:52AM

    Pakistan should introduce the DRONE technology to fly their planes without pilot so that such circumstances can be avoided.!!!

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  • REALIST
    Sep 20, 2013 - 12:06PM

    @Leela. He was not drinking alcohol in Pakistan, hence 80 lashes are not applicable.

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  • ashfaq ali
    Sep 20, 2013 - 12:10PM

    poor administration and a corrupted pact environment of all the institutions.

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  • zog
    Sep 20, 2013 - 12:13PM

    this sums up the pakistan of today…how sad

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  • ali ahmed
    Sep 20, 2013 - 1:03PM

    Captain Irfan Faiz was involved in a similar incident a couple of years back when he tried to operate an ATR plane while intoxicated………
    .phone calls worked and he was not removed….this time phone call will not work…where is our beloved CJP….no suo moto…risking the life of crews and passengers…

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  • Parvez
    Sep 20, 2013 - 1:26PM

    What is shameful is not that he was drunk ( stuff like this happens )…………but the perception that nothing will happen to him.

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  • Taj
    Sep 20, 2013 - 1:27PM

    @Nonliberal:
    Not a very big deal
    I take it your family was not travelling on this aeroplane ?

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  • meekal ahmed
    Sep 20, 2013 - 2:37PM

    “Co-pilot Capt….Chisti?

    ET, can you at least get the basics right? A co-pilot cannot be a captain, and vice-versa.

    I am glad he was caught in the UK. If he had been caught here, he would have made a phone call to Daddy.

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  • John
    Sep 20, 2013 - 2:42PM

    To all the simpletons shocked at this, watch the Denzel Washington movie ‘Flight’, based on a true story.

    Recommend

  • Blunt
    Sep 20, 2013 - 2:49PM

    Today I really got the meaning of the slogans.
    PIA — GREAT people fly with.
    Bakamal log, la jawab service.

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  • Feroz
    Sep 20, 2013 - 3:36PM

    One of my late Pilot friends who used to take delivery and fly the latest Aircraft which were fully computerized used to joke “Fly by wire and die by fire”.

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  • LalaGee
    Sep 20, 2013 - 4:00PM

    But great muslims of pakistan dont drink..how come people from pure land do that….

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  • Feroz
    Sep 20, 2013 - 4:01PM

    Where is Daddy ? Seems like a family of HIGH achievers !

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  • eagleye
    Sep 20, 2013 - 5:05PM

    @LalaGee:
    @Zaida P:

    What has religion got to do with drinking? You can be good, bad or evil whatever your religion.

    No one will ever admit she/he hits the sauce….once you are branded a drunk, you will always a drunk.

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  • Baba Ji
    Sep 20, 2013 - 6:59PM

    I think it is equally shameful, disgraceful and embarrassing a news like “Zehrilee sharab peenay say Kot Addu main 20 afraad jaan bahaq ho gaey” !!!

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  • meekal ahmed
    Sep 20, 2013 - 7:33PM

    @John:

    No, not based on a true story but it borrowed from a real-life experience when an Alaska Airlines MD 80 had problems with its elevator (and therefore no pitch control) and went straight down.

    You can Google it.

    Furthermore, there is no real story about flying a passenger jet inverted. I thought that was the stupidest part of the movie. Even Boeing chimed in. “Flying inverted is not recommended’.

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  • unbelievable
    Sep 20, 2013 - 7:36PM

    Captain Irfan Faiz was involved in a similar incident a couple of years back when he tried to operate an ATR plane while intoxicated.
    .
    Here’s the real crime – once your caught trying to fly drunk your pilot’s license should be permanently revoked – ain’t rocket science.

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  • John
    Sep 20, 2013 - 8:54PM

    @meekal ahmed:
    Ok sir, I stand corrected. Apologies.

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  • Sohail
    Sep 20, 2013 - 9:54PM

    @Nonliberal:
    Delusional apologists like you, is exactly what’s wrong with this nation!

    Recommend

  • YouJay
    Sep 21, 2013 - 12:11AM

    Captain Irfan Faiz, who is the son of General Faiz Ali Chisti.

    “The pilot has been suspended. The airline will take strongest action against him and all those involved in such conduct,” an airline spokesman said on Thursday.

    UNMISTAKABLE IRONY.

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  • Insaan
    Sep 21, 2013 - 1:55AM

    @Zaida P: A Muslim can never do this.

    Must be a conspiracy. CIA or RAW probably mixed alcohol in this guy’s drinking water.

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  • Yasin
    Sep 21, 2013 - 2:58AM

    @NMA

    You’re hillarious.

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  • Sep 21, 2013 - 5:01AM

    @Zaida P: Sir you perhaps don’t know many Muslims.

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  • Gingo
    Sep 21, 2013 - 9:56AM

    And then such pilots fly the plane in drunk state and crash it and then proclaim “It was the will of Allah.”

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  • Ali
    Sep 21, 2013 - 1:41PM

    Uk government should sentence life time prison to this pilot… And should not send this criminal to Pakistan, otherwise he would live freely with honor at here :)

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  • Sep 21, 2013 - 7:01PM

    @Latif: ” I don’t understand what the big deal is… Don’t British authorities know planes practically fly themselves?”
    Sir, PIA should take your advice and wisdom and fire all pilots as the planes fly practically themselves. . Don’t they need to take off and land, receive radio messages from the ground control . and act accordingly? Don’t downplay the intoxication of pilots while flying .

    Recommend

  • Babloo
    Sep 21, 2013 - 8:39PM

    Is it true Islam prohibits drinking alcohol on land and not in air ? What do the learned mullahs say ?

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  • Lets Solve
    Sep 21, 2013 - 8:39PM

    Yes the pilot should be punished but truly I do not care about the Pilot being punished. What I care about is that this is a symptom of a wider disease while afflicts the whole Pakistani society which we need to cure.

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  • Vakil
    Sep 22, 2013 - 2:04AM

    What else can one say…except – **”Cheers!”**Recommend

  • zulfi butt
    Sep 22, 2013 - 4:21AM

    Thank God for the British Police from protecting the public from this menace! May be a short term relief, he would be back risking life and property of this wretched nation!!

    Recommend

  • Cyber Cohen
    Oct 22, 2013 - 11:21PM

    This scumbag must be sacked. It is shocking, and an indictment of the people that run PIA, that this vile creature is still allowed to work for them despite having been caught before.

    There should be no ‘three strikes and out’ in cases such as this; it should be just one strike and out.

    Recommend

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