LAHORE - PIA management has suspended one of its officers allegedly involved in releasing 25 bottles of Aab-e-Zam Zam (holy water) in the name of a bigwig on a flight coming from Jeddah few days back and started inquiry into the issue, said well-informed sources in the national flag carrier on Saturday.

Bottles containing 10 litres water each were dispatched from Jeddah airport and no freight charges were paid to airline, said sources and added that there were charges of Rs 400 per Kg from Jeddah to Lahore. Thus said officer caused loss of Rs 100,000 to airlines by releasing said consignment under the pressure of Air League of PIA employees.

As per details, 25 bottles were transported from Jeddah to Lahore by PIA flight Pk-760. When the flight landed at Allama Iqbal International Airport, the consignment was intercepted by PIA Vigilance and Security Department, said the officer.

Shift supervisor Nazar Bhatti intervened and told shift manager Rohail Zahoor that said consignment was brought on the order of Hamza Shahbaz Sharif. In the meanwhile, Ahmad Butt, president of Air League of PIA Employees Lahore also made a telephone call to Mr Rohail and told him the same story. Ultimately Rohail released the said consignment but Vigilance and Security Staff brought the matter into the notice of management of the airlines.

PIA headquarters issued orders of suspension of Rohail and Nazar but Air League office-bearers by putting pressure got the suspension orders of Nazar cancelled since he was an office-bearer of the Air League. Sources disclosed that Nazar Bhatti, during his Hajj posting, was also caught on the charges of releasing excess baggage without charges. However, shift manager Rohail was suspended and an inquiry has been started.

When contacted, spokesman of PIA, Hanif Rana, confirmed the report and said that an inquiry was underway which would be finalised by Monday (tomorrow) and action would be taken against responsible officials. He was of the view that name of Hamza Shahbaz was used with malafide intention. He said that an inquiry was also initiated against station manager Jeddah and traffic assistant, Khuram on loading the same consignment without receiving charges and thus causing loss to the airline.