LAHORE - A crew member Saturday added another feather to PIA’s cap after being arrested in Paris over heroin smuggling charges.

The flight steward of PIA was caught by Paris authorities while trying to smuggle heroin. The flight PK-749 arrived in Paris from Islamabad where the drug worth millions of rupees was recovered from the steward during checking. The authorities allowed the passengers and PIA staff to return after inspecting the plane.

According to the PIA spokesperson, the French authorities have not given any details regarding the amount of the drug. He confirmed flight steward Tanveer Gulzar is in custody of French authorities in Paris and has been placed under suspension by PIA after initiation of departmental inquiry against him. The suspect can also be dismissed from service if found guilty by the French authorities.

It is uncertain whether the flight steward will be punished in France or deported, he added.

Accused Tanvir Gulzar who is Senior Vice President of Air League of PIA employees was carrying narcotics concealed in his baggage and body. Being a senior employee and officebearer of the union, the accused used to select international flights on his own.

Couple of years back another officebearer of Air League Awais Qureshi was arrested in London on narcotics charges. He was jailed for six months and was terminated from his service but again restored due to unknown reasons.

It is worth mentioning here that there are a series of incidents wherein narcotics were recovered from the national flag carrier’s planes or from the possession of its crew members during the last five years.

Last year on May 15, the national flag carrier’s crew members were detained at Heathrow Airport by the UK Border Force after heroin was recovered from the hidden parts of the plane.

The crew members were kept in detention for five hours. According to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) sources, information had been received from Pakistan that there were narcotics in the plane. There was suspicion that the crew was involved in the incident.

In August 2016, the UK authorities arrested at least 12 staffers of Pakistan International Airlines after the recovery of 6kg of heroin in the toilet of an aircraft bound for Dubai. Then the PIA announced, “Anyone proven guilty will face action, including dismissal from service and other legal consequences.”

In June 2015, the airline sacked five cabin staffers who had been detained in Britain on the accusation of trying to smuggle mobile phones and foreign currency.

In 2013, a PIA pilot was jailed for nine months in Britain after being found to have taken Britain’s legal alcohol limit three times more for flying just before he was due to take off with 156 people aboard.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Aviation Division Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan Abbasi, in reaction to the last incident of narcotics, had held meetings with the senior officials of ANF, ASF, CAA, Customs and PIA in Islamabad, following which a central operational committee had been formed to look into such incidents on regular basis. The CAA DG was the head of this committee.