Islamabad, September 07, 2022 (PPI-OT):The Senate Standing Committee on Aviation on Wednesday directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to issue notices to the booking agents’ country wide that no encashment will be allowed on any return ticket after the exit of the passenger till its return back to their home country, while traveling on a visit visa. These measures are taken to curtail the misuse of return tickets for illicit settlement/work purpose aboard.
The officials FIA/ Immigration HQ’s, apprised the committee that the issue of cancellation of return ticket by the agent back in the home county, after the passenger has flown out has been flagged earlier. The official informed that after the check by the immigration, the traveller is deported and the airlines also have to pay heavy fine.
The committee commented that it is a serious offence and the FIA is not properly exercising its powers to curtail it. The committee stressed that this is not only causing great defamation to the country but also comes under the domain of national offence and strict notice should be taken on it.
The FIA officials argued that the matter should be given off the preview of the FIA as it is a procedural irregularity and does not come under the ambit of committing an offence. The Chairman Committee sought list of all such similar cases by the FIA and directed the FIA to take proper steps and devise an action plan on the same.
The committee also took serious notice of the delay in flights of the PIA international from inside and outside of Pakistan during the last two months. The committee noted that the number of FIA counters is not enough to entertain the passengers, which also causes delay in flight.
The committee was also informed by the FIA officials that delay in flights in the UK especially at the Heathrow airport is because of lagging of staff after the layoffs during the Covid -19. He said that main causes in the delay in flight are mainly weather conditions, issues pertaining to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and marketing related requirements.
The FIA officials informed that the delay is also caused because of completion of immigration/ customs documentation as per the country’s immigration rules and requirements. He said that to pass through the immigration a return ticket, show money and letter of residence or hotel booking is required, no person is detained on clearance of these documents
The committee also took point of public importance raised by Senator Azam Khan Swati on negligence and inhuman behaviour of PIA on ground staff at Dubai International airport, with Passengers of flight (PK212) on August 14th 2022, en-route to Islamabad as the flight was 18-30 hours late. The officials informed the committee that the aircraft was declared (AOG) by the Engineering.
The committee was briefed that PK 212 developed a technical issue before the pushback; therefore all passengers were dissembled from the aircraft. Later the aircraft was declared AOG and a night stop was announced. In order to accommodate passengers, PIA staff on duty contacted different hotels to arrange rooms for the passenger layover but in vain.
The Ministry of Aviation briefed that as per Dubai Immigration and Dubai Civil Aviation policy single entry visit holders cancelled or expired resident visa holders are not allowed to re-enter the country after the exit stamp from Immigration. As a result, such passengers had to stay in the departure lounge. It was further informed that two dead bodies were booked on the same flight.
PIA staffed coordinated with ground handling agent and sent back both the dead bodies to the dedicated cold storage in the cargo section. The PIA officials said that the matter has taken up under consideration for further investigation and the handlers if have showed negligence and bad behaviours will be taken to task.
On the matter of implementation of requirement of Financial Action Tasks Force (FATF) regarding submission of Customs Declaration (Currency Declaration) by inbound and outbound international passengers to stop money laundering, the committee was briefed that Pakistan customs requested for placement of currency Declaration Counters in both international arrival and departure lounges at all the international airports along with pre-recorded announcement in Urdu and English languages with regard to declaration of currency by inbound and out-bound passengers considering the country’s commitment to complete with FATF regulations and their upcoming visits of Pakistan.
The Ministry said that accordingly, instructions have been issued to COOs/AMPs of all international airports for provision of currency declaration counters, which is now duly complied at all international airport. Senator Saleem Mandviwalla said that the letter should be withdrawn, the Civil Aviation Authority has nothing to do with this and opposed the requirement of the FATF.
Saleem Mandviwalla also raised the issue of CIP lounge. Ministry briefed that it is the instruction from the cabinet that no tender would be given for more than 6 months. Senator Saleem Mandviwalla said that under which circumstances these instructions have been issued and it is better to close the CIP longue if such services are to be provided. The Ministry requested for in -camera meeting to speak on the matter.
The aviation authorities also apprised the committee that the reports that the British Airways grounded all flights to Pakistan due to non-availability of fuel are incorrect and said that the British Airways like many other airlines have staff shortage and that is the cause of the suspension of operations.
Briefing on the decision made by Shell Pakistan Limited (SPL) in its Board meeting held on 17th August, 2022 to discontinue SPL’s aviation operation across Pakistan and steps taken by the Aviation Division to deal with after effects/impacts was also taken up.
The Ministry apprised the committee that after the expiry of lease agreement at Karachi Airport, CAA has invited Expression of Interest (EOI) for pre-qualification for disposal of Fuel Farm and Fuel Hydrant at JIAP, Karachi in accordance with the order of the Competition Commission.
Considering lack of market response and unsuccessful tenders for provision of aviation fuel at Quetta, Sukkur, Nawabshah, Skardu and Gwadar airports, CAA has included these airports in the EOI so that successful bidder will have to provide aviation fuel at these airport in addition to Karachi Airport.
In response to the EOI six 06 application were received from following parties by application due date on 20-07-2022; M/s PSO, M/s Shell. M/s Total PARCO, Joint Venture of M/s Attock Petroleum Limited-M/s Menzies -RAS M/s BE Energy and M/s. PUMA. The committee was also informed that the Larkana airport is still non-operational due to floods.
The meeting was attended by Senators Syed Muhammad Sabir Shah, Faisal Saleem Rahman, Mohsin Aziz, Saleem Mandviwalla, Afnan Ullah Khan, Dilawar Khan and Senator Azam Khan Swati. Secy Aviation, DG CAA, CEO PIA and other senior officials of the allied departments were also in attendance.
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Senate of Pakistan
H.No.7, Cat-II, G-8/2, Islamabad, Pakistan