LAHORE: A video of angry airline passengers forcing two lawmakers off a Pakistan International Airlines flight went viral online on Tuesday, sparking a debate about ‘VIP culture’. The flight on Monday night from Karachi to Islamabad took off almost two hours late, in part due to the late arrival of former interior minister Rehman Malik and PML-N minority leader Ramesh Kumar Vankwani.
In one of the videos posted online and filmed via a passenger’s camera phone, passengers can be seen waiting at the aircraft’s door for Malik. As he walked down the runway, one passenger shouted, “You should go back. You should apologise to these passengers and you should be ashamed of yourself.” Another passenger shouted, “We have taken this for 68 years. Are we going to take it for another 68 years?” Vankwani left the flight after irate passengers threatened to beat him with their shoes.
In a statement issued by PIA on Tuesday, the airline said the plane’s 150 passengers were delayed due to technical issues. The statement said, “The plane was delayed for one hour and thirty minutes (and) passengers were informed accordingly. However, the flight was delayed by an additional 20 minutes due to two parliamentarians who arrived late on the aircraft but were off-loaded.”
Advisor to the Prime Minister on Aviation Shujaat Azeem ordered an immediate inquiry into the incident and two PIA Passenger Handling Services officials have been suspended so far.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2014.