LAHORE - Dozens of Umrah pilgrims on Friday staged a demonstration in front of PIA Town office at Edgerton road to protest repeated cancellation of their flights consecutively for last seven days.

The reasons behind the delay have appeared to be the foggy weather, closure of runway after a plane escaped disaster on Lahore airport and grounding of PIA plane B-777.

However, Umrah flight operations have been almost completely dysfunctional from Lahore airport, affecting the travelers badly.

Sources in the National Flag Carrier have said that the PIA management has failed to smooth the disturbed Umrah operations after a series of flights was put on cancellation from December 29, 2014 to January 04, 2015. Within last one week so far, seven flights have been cancelled and PIA Lahore reservation office has suspended its fresh sale for Umrah section.

A PIA officer said that more than 2500 passengers were affected by the flight interruptions and they were seeking help from PIA Lahore management but there was no senior officer to handle these passengers. Ultimately they rushed to PIA town office cum reservation office, where PIA Lahore District Manager Umar Draz is the man in-charge.

Similarly at Lahore airport Manzoor Junior is performing as Station Manager and he is responsible for all problems related to PIA being faced by the Umrah passengers. But some officials were involved in taking advantage of the situation and sending the offloaded passengers to private hotels rather than the approved ones. “They receive commission from these hotel owners - Rs1000 to Rs1500 per passenger or per room,” sources in PIA revealed.

Sources also claimed that as per rules the PIA is bound to provide every passenger his independent room but hotels owners, with the connivance of these officials, keep two passengers in single room while charge the airline therwise - one passenger per room.

It has also been revealed that the Karachi Central Reservation Control (CRC) has been involved in issuing fresh tickets to their blue eyed travel agent (Loyal Pur Aviation). Sources in the reservation claimed that Director Marketing, on an extra flight, had issued 25 seats to Loyalpur Aviation Faisalabad in the name of Lahore booking office. Lahore Passengers Sales Manager (PSM) Babar Zaman has also expressed his resentment over the issue and has forwarded an email to Karachi head office in this regard.