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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More