LAHORE - Over 50 percent of Pakistan's population is living below the poverty line, a World Bank report titled "World Development Indicators (WDI) 2015" maintains. The gap between rich and poor is widening. Like the rich western countries the number of private plane owners has risen significantly in Pakistan. It is ‘hop on, hop off’ game for the rich and the powerful as they use planes to move around the country as well as abroad.

Influential politicians and businessmen are operating their own private planes worth millions of rupees and use of these planes is more than mere air travel, sources in Civil Aviation A confided to The Nation.

“These people to get their personal jobs done offer their private planes to rulers and their families for air travel. Top bureaucrats and politicians often use these planes for travel within Pakistan and abroad as well,” CAA sources said.

The influential people who own private planes include Malik Riaz (owns three planes), Mian Muhammad Mansha (three planes), Chaudhry Munir (three planes), Makhdoom Ahmad Mehmood (two planes), Jahangir Tareen, Z Iqbal and Fatima Fertilizer own one plane each.

These planes mostly parked at different airports are used for domestic flights but sometimes also used for international travel by their owners or their guests.

For international flights of these aircraft officers of inspector ranks from Customs, Immigration and ASF visit the departure site which is situated adjacent to old airport and Hajj Terminal of Allama Iqbal International Airport.

An officer of CAA seeking anonymity said that when a VIP is travelling how is it possible that an inspector rank officer of Immigration, Customs or ASF can check him thoroughly.

Director FIA Dr. Usman Anwar said that all VIPs have to go through immigration process before an international flight by a private plane even from Hajj terminal. He said that an immigration counter has been established at Hajj terminal side and at the time of any international flight, Immigration staff is deputed there for proper immigration process.

A CAA officer said that normally these aircrafts fly at speed of 500 to 550 km per hour and operational cost of every plane is US $ 1000 per hour. While among other charges which CAA receives include fee for issuing Certificate of Airworthiness (CFA), hanger charges, parking, landing & take off and navigation charges.

“Apart from these charges owners of the aircrafts have to hire the services of pilots, aircraft engineers and other staff also which cost handsome amount per month,” protocol officer of a private airplane owner said. PTI leader Jahangir Tareen, owns Beechcraft Super King Air 200 plane

The United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps all have different versions of the Super King Air 200. Some are "off-the-shelf" civil versions, but the majority have been purpose-built for the military. This plane has the capacity of 13 passengers and two crew members with maximum takeoff weight 12,500 lb (5,670 kg).

Makhdoom Ahmad Mehmood, former Governor Punjab, owns PA-46 Piper Matrix which is a family of American light aircraft manufactured by Piper Aircraft of Vero Beach, Florida. The aircraft is powered by a single engine and has the capacity for one pilot and five passengers and one crew. It is sold mainly to civilian customers. Second plane one owned by Makhdoom is The Lancair IV a family of four-seat including one crew.

Mian Muhammad Mansha owns G-200 Gulfstream plane, Beech 200 Super King Air and G-150 plane. G-200 Gulfstream has capacity of maximum 18 passengers and two crew members with maximum speed of 900 km/h.

Malik Riaz owns three aircrafts including one Hawker 400, Hawker 4000 and a helicopter AW139. Hawker 400 has the capacity of seven to nine passengers and two pilots while Hawker 4000 has maximum capacity of 12 passengers and two crew members. AW-139 Helicopter has the capacity of 1 to 2 crew and 15 passengers.

Ch. Munir is owner of three aircrafts including Cessna Citation B-550, CJ 3 and G-150. Seating capacity of Cessna B-550 is 8 passengers and two crew members. Fatima fertilizer has one aircraft Challenger W 604 which has good seating capacity of 19 passengers and two crew pilot and Co pilot. Z Iqbal owns Hawker 400.

When contacted about misuse of private planes Airport Manager Riaz-ud-Din said that everything is possible but an officer will have to be dishonest to facilitate any passenger.