LAHORE - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has taken notice of the strike by the office bearers of Air League at the Lahore airport and suspension of flight operation for four hours a couple of days back.

Reportedly, Air League of PIA employees went on strike over a petty issue and suspended airlines operation by four hours. The prime minister has taken notice of the incident, said well-placed sources in the national flag carrier on Friday. It merits mentioning here that due to the strike, four international flights were delayed by four hours, causing a huge loss to PIA and inconvenience to hundreds of passengers.  Adviser to Prime Minister on Aviation Shujaat Azeem has also summoned the PIA chairman and MD (who were on foreign visit those days) for a meeting to be held on Saturday (today) in Islamabad.

As per reports, on May 6, 2015, PIA employees of Air League closed down briefing counters at Allama Iqbal International Airport (AIIAP) for the only reason that Vigilance Director Waseem Sial had asked them to tag the luggage properly. Boarding process of Oslo flight Pk-751 was in progress when Waseem paid a surprise visit to the airport and observed that Umair Ansar, a PIA employee backed by Air League, was performing duty at business class counter. Umair, after checking a passenger, issued baggage ticket and handed it over to a porter to tag it to baggage.

It merits mentioning that as per SOP of PIA, a staffer performing duty at a counter is duty bound to paste tickets himself to the baggage of passengers to avoid any incident of baggage missing. Waseem asked Umair to put the ticket himself on bags on which Umair became furious and started shouting at the director, an eyewitness to the incident said.

Meanwhile, Air League Vice President Gull Hassan and more office bearers of the union gathered at the spot and started chanting slogans against Waseem. They forced all the other staff to close down the counter to suspend the flight operation. The employees left their job and gathered at the union office. After three to four hours, they came back to their jobs. Due to the protest of the Air League employees, four flights – three international and one domestic – were delayed from two to four hours. These flights were Pk-751 Lahore to Oslo, Pk-709 Manchester, Pk-270 Delhi and Pk-303 Lahore to Karachi.

Another officer of PIA said the real grudge of the Air League employees behind the protest was that Waseem had already played a role in registration of an FIR against the two PIA employees who forced their entry into the PIA Town office, broke open the cupboards and fled after collecting some files from the record. Those two employees were sacked after corruption charges were proven against them.

When contacted, Mehmood Bokhari of Air League said the vigilance director crossed his limits. “He did not advise Umair to tag the baggage himself, but threw it on his face in an insulting way,” Bokhari said. He alleged the officer had made the PIA a police state as his parent department was police.

Meanwhile, the national flag carrier spokesman said the issue had been resolved amicably and PIA had apologised to the passengers for the delay they had to face.