225 PIA employees across country served show-cause notices under Essential Service Act

LAHORE: At least 225 employees of Pakistan International Airline (PIA) were served show-cause notices in action under Essential Service Act on Monday.

Tight security was maintained at all the airports across the country.

Air Traffic Department’s Rahat, Sajjad Ahmed and Shad Muhammad, Arif from cargo services, Kifait of reservation department, engineering wing’s Kifaitullah, Safa Badshah from finance department and Information Technology (IT) department’s Shafeeq were served the notices.

However, the employees refused to accept the notices and announced to approach court in the matter.

Meanwhile, dozens of passengers were stranded at the airport as flight operations were suspended on seventh day.

Several locals, who had come to cancel their tickets protested, outside the booking offices upon refusal.

Main offices of the national airline remained closed countrywide and all services including booking and courier were shut. Customers were suffering as private airlines have used the situation for their advantage by hiking fares.

Protesting employees staged sit-ins in different cities including Quetta, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar among other cities.

However, in the early hours on Monday flight operation was restored partially at Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore.

A flight from Islamabad landed at the Lahore airport and returned while four flights left for Saudi Arabia, two for Medina and two for Jeddah, to bring back over 1000 stranded Umrah pilgrims.

Two more international flights for Dubai and Abu Dhabi were also expected to take off from Lahore later Monday.

According to a PIA spokesperson, two Boeing 777 planes reached Islamabad from Saudi Arabia earlier. Flight PK-7330 carried 400 while the other PK-760 transported 325 pilgrims back to the country. Flight carrying only 4 of the pilgrims arrived in Gilgit-Baltistan in the morning however the spokesperson claimed that it was full of passengers.

Meanwhile, Section-144 has been imposed in federal capital’s airport premises for 48 hours.

On the other hand, Lahore High Court (LHC) rejected the plea challenging imposition of Essential Service Act on PIA employees.

Justice Shahid Waheed, who heard the plea, remarked that imposition of Essential Service Act was against the Articles 7, 8 and 9 of the Constitution. The act could be imposed if there was a threat to country’s stability otherwise, depriving people of their right to protest was not allowed by the law.

The court, however, rejected the plea stating that it did not bear notification of the Essential Service Act.

On the other hand, security at all airports across the country remained on high alert.

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