After several hiccups, and an ongoing blame game between the CAA and SAI, Shaheen Air International (SAI) has sent its aircraft to Guangzhou, China to bring back Pakistanis who have been stranded there for almost a month. This flight will fly back to Pakistan on Monday.
According to SAI’s spokesperson Zohaib Hassan, a ferry flight (without passengers) was sent from Karachi to Lahore, and finally to Guangzhou at about 2 am on August 6. This flight will bring the stranded passengers. As per the operation schedule, this flight will fly from Guangzhou at about 1 pm and land at Lahore airport at 6 pm today.
Earlier, the Supreme Court (SC) ordered SAI to bring back Pakistanis who were left in China due to non-availability of flights. Just a week ago, SAI had a prior plan to operate a flight NL-891 from Lahore to Guangzhou. However, at the last moment, the CAA stopped aircraft from flying on technical grounds.
This led to SAI blaming CAA for creating hurdles in flight operations over a mala fide intention. On the other hand CAA informed the apex court that as the regulator of the aviation industry, it is responsible for the safety and security of the passengers and therefore, it cannot permit aircraft to fly which are not airworthy.
The Supreme Court ordered that only airworthy aircraft should be sent on the mission bring back Pakistanis from China. The court also summon Kashif Sehbai and Ahsan Sehbai, who are the owners of SAI, to appear in court on Tuesday August 7.
After the court orders, CAA has allowed SAI to operate as many ferry flights as they need to bring back trapped Pakistanis from Guangzhou. CAA also requested SAI to share the number of flights it wishes to operate for the purpose.
PIA Steps In
On Saturday, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) announced that it can provide its Boeing 777 aircraft to bring the stranded passengers back home on humanitarian grounds.
Following this news, SAI clarified that PIA will provide its aircraft on a commercial basis. This was decided in a joint meeting between CAA, PIA and SAI officials.
On Sunday afternoon, sources in PIA disclosed that SAI is not cooperating in obtaining the necessary permissions and over the use of airspace of India, Myanmar, Bangladesh and China. If SAI can not provide the necessary approvals on time, the PIA aircraft won’t be available due to a busy Hajj season.
In the evening, SAI announced that spare parts for its grounded aircraft have arrived in Pakistan. After customs inspections, these parts have been cleared for use in the aircraft. Following this procedure, engineers declared the aircraft airworthy. With all the due diligence taken care of, CAA has allowed SAI to operate flights NL 892 and NL 891 to bring back stranded Pakistanis from Guangzhou.