KARACHI: Four members of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of Pakistan International Airline (PIA) employees, who were kidnapped by unidentified people on Wednesday, were released and came to their houses on early today morning as flight operations partially resumed.

JAC leader and People's Unity (PU) President Hidayatullah Khan, PU Vice President Zameer Chandio, Saifullah and Mansoor Dhalwan were found missing when the PIA employees started demonstration against the proposed privatization of national flag carrier.    

According to PIA officials, the airline has been operating flights from Islamabad, Gilgit and Lahore.

During a protest against the PIA’s proposed privatization, JAC Chairman Capt. Sohail Baloch on Sunday warned the government that the employees would take out a rally from the PIA head office at the Old Terminal to the Jinnah Terminal for the recovery of their missing colleagues.

"The march has been put off as our colleagues have returned," JAC Spokesman Nasrullah Khan told newsmen. He, however, added that the employees would continue to protest outside all the major airports until acceptance of their demands.

Speaking to media persons, Hidayatullah said the four men had been detained for six days. "We didn't know where they were taking us at night," he said, as their eyes had been covered throughout. "They left us in various parts of the city... We don't know which agency they are from," he said of the people who detained him along with his colleagues.

Earlier, a petition was filed in the Sindh High Court regarding the disappearance of the protesters. No one was named in the petition.

After remaining suspended for six days because of the employees’ strike, PIA flight operations partially resumed on Sunday when the airline’s two Boeing aircraft brought home 725 pilgrims stranded in Saudi Arabia.

Two more planes took off from Benazir Bhutto International Airport Islamabad for Jeddah on Sunday night to bring back the remaining pilgrims. Another flight (PK-211) left for Dubai.

The airline’s ATR flight with four people on board landed at the Gilgit airport and returned to Islamabad with the passengers stranded there. One domestic and four international flights were operated from Lahore, but operations from other airports of the country could not resume.

However, PIA employees voiced concerns that proper safety protocol had not been followed to put the planes in the air.

PIA engineers warned the management against operating flights without ensuring the aircraft’s maintenance protocols as it may cause serious safety hazards.

The Society of Aircraft Engineers of Pakistan said: “The PIA management is forcing the engineers to release the aircraft without accomplishment of the prerequisites which are mandatory as per ICAO and PCAA regulations. The safety of passengers and the aircraft itself is being jeopardised. Inspections and components’ replacement issues are being waived off by PCAA Pakistan under pressure by the government officials.

On Sunday night, a warning letter about the application of the Pakistan Essential Services (Maintenance) Act, 1952, was delivered to striking employees to make them aware that their strike was illegal, PIA spokesman Daniyal Gilani said.