LAHORE - Fifty percent PIA flights are being cancelled daily after passengers have gone fed up with the repeated recoveries of narcotics from planes and undisciplined airline pilots.

“Flights are being cancelled due to passengers who seek to travel by other airlines because they have lost their faith and confidence in PIA. National carrier is an airline which was once reputed for its safety record and service,” said a senior PIA officer.

On Sunday and Monday, 16 and 11 flights were cancelled at Allama Iqbal International Airport (AIIAP) Lahore about what PIA spokesman said was due to start of Holy month of Ramazan.

He believed that airline operations would gain momentum after 15 of Ramazan and passengers’ load would become normal.

An insider of the airline said that all flights operating between European destinations, America and Canada were cancelled in current week. PIA management has issued instructions that any flight carrying less than 100 passengers would be cancelled.

Losses-stricken PIA is facing an acute shortage of passengers because of failure by national airline management to take cognizance of serious breaches of passengers’ safety by undisciplined employees (pilots) and corrupt politicised executives who lack skills and integrity to enforce discipline and restore passengers’ confidence. Many regional Gulf airlines were given permission to operate which has created a more competitive environment, requiring a competent and highly qualified management, specialised in this service-oriented industry with emphasis on passenger satisfaction instead of mediocrity that dominates its executive corridors.

Three incidents showing lack of discipline and breach of flight safety regulations by PIA staff have been reported this year.

In January, Capt Anwar Adil who also faces allegations of submitting a fake degree was involved in carrying 7 passengers over and above the seating capacity of B777 on a flight from Karachi to Medina. A conscientious PIA stewardess reported the matter to management but instead of being encouraged she was grounded for over four months while the alleged culprit was allowed to fly and also hold an executive assignment. It was only when CEO Bernd was removed, officiating CEO Nayyar ordered that stewardess be allowed to fly and influential pilot was grounded. In May this year, Capt Amir Hashmi was reported by a passenger to be sleeping in Business Class on PK 786 for over 2 hours and 30 minutes leaving the aircraft in control of first officer. Though Hashmi has approached court for justice and he denies charges.

Earlier in September 2014, he was charged with smuggling high end I-phones by customs on arrival from London.

Another incident to come to light was Capt Shahzad Aziz who allowed a Chinese girl to fly in cockpit of PK 853 from Tokyo to Beijing. Capt Shahzad is alleged to have submitted a fake matriculation certificate and faces several other severe charges yet manages to be on payroll because of his influential contacts in PIA and CAA.

Two repeated incidents of narcotics detection from PIA planes in the recent past also shattered the confidence of passengers into the airlines. Though an inquiry has been started into the incidents but there was no output in this regard so far.

PIA spokesman Mashhood Tajwar, when contacted, said that two above-mentioned pilots had been suspended and they were not flying anymore. About narcotics incidents, he said that an inquiry had been initiated and responsible would be brought to justice after findings.