News / Asia

Pakistan's National Airline Deals with Passenger Backlog After Ash Cloud Delays

Multimedia

Audio
Sean Maroney

Officials with Pakistan's national airline, PIA, say they are working to overcome a backlog of thousands of passengers delayed since a cloud of volcanic ash closed much of the airspace across Europe.

Manzoor Hussain is among the hundreds of passengers who were able to leave on the first Pakistan International Airlines flight to the United Kingdom since Iceland's volcanic eruption last week. He spoke to reporters at the airport in Pakistan's southern coastal city of Karachi before his flight late Wednesday.

"I was stuck in Pakistan for the past five or six days. It's been very problematic for me because of work and family, and it's made loads of disruptions to our schedule," Hussain said.

His family was in Pakistan for a wedding two weeks ago. They were supposed to leave Sunday, but were unable due to flight delays. PIA's spokesman Sultan Hassan tells VOA that the Hussains are among the up to 17,000 travelers backlogged on PIA flights, which frequently run through European airspace. He says the recent shutdown of commercial aviation is worse than the shutdown following the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

"I think this was a worse scenario. I don't think such a standstill we have experienced before," Hussain adds.  

He says that during the recent crisis, PIA provided all it could for passengers en route to their destinations, including providing accommodations for passengers stranded in Paris.

"All these passengers, around 320, were for New York. Seventy were senior citizens, and there were about 16 infants," Hassan said. "And for these infants we really had to even provide diapers and milk."  

Hassan says PIA now is doing everything it can to increase its number of flights and accommodate more passengers. But he says nothing can be done for the perishable goods meant for transport on PIA flights that have been lost after sitting in storage in Karachi. Hassan estimates that during the crisis, PIA suffered $2 million a day in losses.

Ashfaq Ahmad is an economist and former advisor to Pakistan's Finance Ministry. He tells VOA that the natural disaster could not have happened at a worse time for Pakistan. Ahmad says that due to high oil prices and overstaffing, PIA already has been receiving assistance from the government. He says the Pakistani government most likely will pay for PIA's recent losses.

"PIA is now dependent totally on the Ministry of Finance to keep this airline floating," said Ahmad. "If they don't get injections or oxygen from the Ministry of Finance, then this patient would die."

And for passengers, such as Manzoor Hussain and his family, the situation has cost them time they can never get back.

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid