PESHAWAR: A scuffle between PIA engineers and union leaders on Sunday led to an unscheduled and indefinite delay of three flights, including two international ones.
According to officials at Bacha Khan International Airport, PIA management said offices would be closed for the nightshift as things had almost ground to a halt. However, the union rejected these orders. Union members assumed the directives had not come from Karachi but were issued by the local office.
“The administration asked them to contact headquarters, but union members were fighting to keep the offices open,” official added. They said the nightshift gives these workers a chance to make extra money by virtue of overtime. Paying overtime, however, was seen as a burden on the national carrier.
Union members reportedly entered the engineering room and exchanged words with PIA engineers which led to a scuffle. “Some engineers were injured and shifted to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) for medical assistance,” said a source.
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) officials said the altercation led to the delay of three flights.
They said PK-217, leaving for Abu Dhabi at 4:45pm, could not depart due to the chaos. Meanwhile, PK-894 scheduled for departure at 3pm for Kuala Lumpur was also delayed for an indefinite period. Finally, PK-351 which was leaving for Karachi at 6:15pm was also delayed and a new departure time was yet to be announced till the filing of this report.
“Passengers had received boarding passes, but are still waiting for flights to take off,” said a PIA official. “However, the ground realities tell a different situation.” PIA’s regional manager, Asmatullah Barki, could not be reached for comments despite several attempts to contact him.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2015.