By: M.Sultan Shah
Despite of getting drowned by PIA very often, I still can not resist myself to fly with my national carrier…But, how long more???
I had a chance to travel with PIA this October with my wife from Lahore to Karachi and it turned out to be a disaster. After roaming around in Lahore for two days visit, we were all set to fly to Karachi when we found that the flight was delayed for one hour beyond its actual schedule of 11:00 am. Fair enough, we took it lightly and started strolling around and passed time in bookshops and enjoying some snacks. After that, they announced of one more hour delay which passengers took with a bit of discomfort. Finally, when the melodious PIA announcement disturbed our senses “Kahwateen-o-Hazraat PIA ki Karachi jane wali parwaaz PK(_ _) fanni kharabi ki wajah se taakheer ka shikaar hai, rawangi ka ailaan baad mai kia jaye ga ” So the whole bunch of passengers went down hearing this as every one of us knew that we were the fresh victim of our national carrier.
From there on, it started the whole series of errors, situations stumbling and funny events. We then took our lunch to keep our appetites. I kept on observing the passengers who were getting angry with the passage of time. PIA provided the passengers with lunch boxes shortly which was the most awaited thing at that time and people just attacked the poor distributors (as they were hungry forever). Nevertheless, nobody stopped them doing so and Shareef passengers like me were empty handed (As I assumed they will come to each one of us with an apology). Although I had had my own lunch with my own pocket, just to make them realize I had to pinch two boxes (when they came for the second time) as there is no space for justice for people who want to keep their selves in order. You have to snatch your box; otherwise the system just does not care, to what condition you are passing through.
Meanwhile there were all sorts of rumors of TV airing for the poor flight. “Flight will depart at 6:00pm” somebody told us. “Passengers will be accommodated on Air Indus flight”, the rumors touched us. I saw an MNA (very famous politician) there who was to catch another flight. Although, he is very famous on media but nobody bothered just to Salam him at that very moment. He was standing alone talking with 1-2 people. Passengers knew he was there and with an unwanted feeling, they passed all sorts of slang and shit remarks about him. At that day my realization become much strong “Respect is a very pious thing which could not be bought at any cost” All the status and powers are in vain when you are unable to get heartiest respect from common men. We all know that self servant politicians are disregarded all over the country for their selfish agendas. So, it was a real experience to watch humiliation of men in power during this flight delay.
During the last two hours of this drama, there was a rumor that everything was all set and now we are waiting for the Pilot to arrive the scene to take us all home. So, each and every one of us started to look at the corridor (coming towards departure gate) with a very innocent hope. I just can not forget the way people looked for Pilot. RED CARPET was the only thing missing from the scene at that time. Alas! The pilot came with a dignified look and all the passengers started clapping as if some sort of film premiere was on way. It was a perfect heroic entry. Despite of all the mess-ups, that PIA pilot was such confident that he started clapping (with a gentle smile) in reply to his overwhelming reception. What an epic scene, perhaps I would never be able to see this again.
Worthy to mention, one brave PIA official stood his ground up to the last moment and was responding very well to passengers. We have witnessed people often run in these conditions but that man stood with a sense of duty that is highly appreciable. Poor PIA staffs have to face this situation every now and then due to bad bad politics played with our beloved national carrier. They are the people on ground and have to justify crimes which they never committed. Working & competent PIA staff has to struggle to save this national institution and keep their jobs in tact. Salute to all dedicated working professionals of PIA…
“Allah Allah kar ke Jahaz mai beth gaye yaar”. That PIA plane was a Boeing 747 and seemed to be a very old one. Then when the plane left the apron area strange sounds “GURR GUROON GUSHHHHHHHHHH GUSHAAA”. Ya Allah, we recited all the Surat’s and Ayat’s we had learned and called our families as we were unsure of reaching alive. During the takeoff I was cursing myself as why did I booked PIA as now I am unsure of my EID-UL-ADHA the very next day. Worthy to mention a PIA aircraft survived an engine failure few days back in Karachi (so it was revolving in our minds). So, we were wondering what’s coming next our way. But luckily the flight was smooth against all our fears and presumptions.
We reached our home safely in the end but all along the way and even now my heart is deluge to see mess-ups with PIA. It was not only a simple Lahore-Karachi trip. It was witnessing a national institution die. It was like watching PIA taking her last breaths. I have a very close and personal association with PIA as my father served here for whole of his life. There were many instants when he asked us “Beta PIA ke halaat kharaab hai, iske liay dua karo” and we raised our hands for prayers. There were instants when my father and many employees like him served over the time and delayed salaries to keep things in tact. It’s a pity that things have never changed since the very golden era of 50’s 60’s. If PIA and its people can trigger big names like Emirates and provide gateways to China in past being one of the finest airlines, then why not today? Lately, I saw one report saying PIA has highest number of staff per aircraft in the whole world; many of them are political appointments for incompetent people against merit. Corruption is another thing that stabs the airline every now and then. Witnessing Gulf airlines with many of bright Pakistanis, why not PIA could flourish by taking services of these professionals. We all know the answers, good political will and leadership can change course for any institution.
Many passengers have left business with PIA due to their bad service, at the same time many loyal people are still keeps their heads straight and getting embarrassed in airports all around the world. But how long we would continue like this?. May Allah protect you PIA and enable with all good things soon. Perhaps this is the only last thing I can say on this topic as “Mayusi gunah Hai” …Get well soon PIA and become a national pride again!