Pilot’s love for sandwiches delays flight

LAHORE - A foodie pilot got a New York-bound flight delayed by two and a half hours at Allama Iqbal International Airport (AIIAP) for the sole reason that he wanted to take sandwiches aboard the plane over and above the approved menu, said sources in the airlines’ catering department on Saturday.
As per details, PIA flight Pk-711, scheduled for New York via Manchester, was ready for departure on Saturday from Lahore airport at 6:45am. The catering department served approved menu, including lunch, peanuts, chips and biscuits. But Flight Captain Noushad asked the catering department to serve him sandwiches. The catering staff expressed their inability to serve anything beyond the approved menu and also informed him of the sensitivity of the flight’s departure time. The staff told him that sandwiches could only be arranged by placing an order to a five-star hotel in the city, which would take more than two hours. The captain remained adamant about his demand and said no matter how much time it would take and that he needed sandwiches at any cost.
The catering department contacted the PIA head office in Karachi and brought the matter into their notice. The management directed the catering department to meet his demand. Sandwiches were arranged from the hotel concerned and the flight could depart at 9:15am with the delay of two and a half hours.
It merits mentioning here that lunch was separately served in the flight, but, perhaps, it was insufficient for the pilot. Another PIA pilot, Sohail Baloch, was also travelling with his family on this flight but his status on this flight was as supernumerary.
It is worth mentioning here that the PIA management has revised the menu on international and long-haul flights as a cost-saving campaign and sandwiches were replaced with peanuts, chips and biscuits. This service was started from November 25.
A PIA officer said the menu was revised on the recommendations of a committee, formed in the recent past, comprising pilots as its member as well. He said 2:30 hours delay was very damaging for the airlines already facing shortage of planes. He added a grounded plane was loss for an airline while a plane in the air earned revenue for it. An aviation expert said the passengers having connecting flights from Manchester and New York would miss their flights, which would bring bad name to PIA.
When contacted, PIA spokesman Mashhood Tajwar said the management had taken a serious notice of the delay of an international flight. He said investigation had been ordered and action would be taken against those responsible for it.