LAHORE - PIA has reduced its Umrah fare when all the business in this regard has been done by other carriers with low fare and Saudi government has also stopped issuance of more Umrah visas to the pilgrims, said sources in the airline on Saturday.
National flag carrier kept its Ummrah fare at Rs 66000 per return ticket from May 15 to onward till now.
Sources disclosed that Saudi government had stopped issuance of Ummrah visas from May 15, due to certain reasons. The pilgrims who had got visas issued by Saudi embassies in Pakistan were transported by other airlines since at that time PIA was charging Rs 66000 per return ticket, whereas other airlines were providing same facility against the charges of Rs.56000. So, all the Umrah passengers and travel agents preferred other airlines like Shaheen Airlines, Air Blue and Saudi Airline to travel to the holy land.
A PIA employees union former president alleged that due to the connivance of Director Marketing with other airlines, other airlines earned millions of rupees due to PIA’s high fare and their low fare. He said that it was conspiracy against the national carrier.
The Pakistan International Airline was operating under-load Pakistan-Saudi Arabia flights because of its high fare which was also not noticed by MD or chairman PIA.
A travel agent, on the condition of anonymity, said the PIA marketing department has also not finalised its Haj fare and flight schedule so far, providing other airlines golden opportunity of having booked a good number of intending pilgrims. “A travel agent having Haj quota of more than 500 pilgrims has booked 400 via Shaheen airlines,” PIA sources said. Moreover, other airlines have also cashing in on PIA’s high Ummrah fare, it has been learnt.
An agent said: “I have issued 26 Ummrah tickets, but no one for PIA because of national airlines high fare.” A senior PIA officer alleged that the PIA management might be trying to promote other airlines. When contacted, PIA spokesman Mashood Tajwar said: “Since the PIA has overhead expenses and operating B-777 planes, its fare is higher than other airlines. “We have cancelled our certain flights on said sector due to which our fare is high,” he said and added that Haj flights schedule and fare would be announced shortly.