Investigation launched after Pakistani airline allowed seven extra people to stand on an over-crowded flight

The three hour flight left Karachi bound for Medina with 416 people aboard 

Rebecca Flood
Sunday 26 February 2017 14:11
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Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane taxies before take-off from Karachi International Airport in Karachi
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane taxies before take-off from Karachi International Airport in Karachi

A Pakistani airline will be investigated after it emerged at least seven extra people were allowed on to a flight and forced to stand in the aisle.

An inquiry has been launched into Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-743, from Karachi to Medina, following claims it was over capacity when it made the three-hour trip.

The Boeing 777 aircraft which can seat 409 including jump seats, those reserved for staff, allegedly took off with 419 people aboard.

The extra passengers are said to have stood in the aisle for the duration of the trip after flight attendants issued them handwritten boarding passes instead of the standard computer-generated ones.

The flight on 20 January breached air safety regulations and PIA spokesman Danyan Gilani said the matter was being investigated, newspaper Dawn reported.

Despite confirmation the matter was being looked into, Mr Gilani offered no explanation as to how the potentially life-threatening situation was allowed to occur.

The excess people meant they would not be able to access oxygen if needed as there would not be enough masks, and could hold up an evacuation in an emergency landing.

The paper claims the pilot, senior flight attendant and traffic staffers are allegedly trying to pin the blame on one another.

Hina Turab, senior flight attendant, claims she informed the pilot there were too many passengers on board, but she was told by the captain to adjust them as the aircraft was about to taxi.

But Capt Anwer Adil maintains his computer-generated sheet did not show excess passengers.

He said: “After takeoff when I came out of cockpit, Ms Turab informed me that there were some extra people who [had been] boarded by the traffic staff.

“I also noticed some people were those who were categorically refused jump seats by me at the check in counter before the flight.

“I had already taken off and the senior purse did not inform me about extra passengers before closing the aircraft door.

“Therefore after takeoff immediate landing back at Karachi was not possible as it required lot of fuel dumping which was not in the interest of the airline,” Dawn reported.

Protocol states that the flight should have returned to the airport so the excess passengers could disembark, and then resume the chartered flight.

He maintains it was Ms Turab’s responsibility to ensure there were no extra passengers aboard.

And he claimed the traffic staff should not have allowed anyone with a handwritten ticket on to the plane.

PIA, which is yet to take punitive action, said it was unable to confirm how long an inquiry would take.

The incident comes soon after all 48 people aboard a PIA flight died in December when it crashed near Abbottabad.

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