Published on : Monday, February 27, 2017
Pakistan International Airlines allowed seven passengers to travel standing in the aisles all the way to Saudi Arabia, prompting a probe into the serious breach of security regulations by Pakistan’s national carrier.
The passengers were allowed on the 20th January flight to Medina despite every seat being filled, the airline said.
The flight in question went from Karachi to Medina carrying a total of 416 passengers, on a Boeing 777 with a total seating capacity of 409, including staff seats.
People with handwritten boarding cards scrambled for seats as the Boeing 777 taxied for takeoff on 20 January.
A spokesman for PIA, Danyal Gilani, confirmed that an internal investigation had begun into “the matter pertaining to the travel of more passengers than the booked load” and “strict action would be taken against anyone found at fault.”
Carrying additional passengers on a plane is a serious breach of safety regulations. Those without seats would not have oxygen masks and might cause congestion if the airline needed to be evacuated.
The flight’s captain, Anwar Adil, told the media that he learned about the extra passengers after takeoff, by which point it was too late to turn around as this would have meant dumping fuel in order to land safely.
The national carrier was once a symbol of Pakistan’s engineering and aviation prowess, but suffers from huge debts, an ageing fleet and a string of corruption scandals.