Pakistan International Airlines caught in yet another controversy. (iStock)
A hotel in the United Kingdom has reportedly told Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) that it will no longer rent rooms to its flight crew, in particular to its male members.
According to Pakistan’s Express Tribune, numerous female guests have told the unidentified hotel they feel “insecure” around male crew members. Apparently, the men have been “pestering” the female guests, including asking for their home phone numbers.
The refusal is just the latest in a long line of public relations mishaps for the airline this year.
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In May, a pilot was accused of “endangering the lives of passengers” after he invited a Chinese woman to accompany him in the cockpit on a flight from Tokyo to Beijing. A correspondent for GEO News, Irfan Siddiqui, who happened to be on that flight recorded a video asking the woman if the pilot was “a friend or relative” and the video quickly went viral.
According to Siddiqui, the woman was in the cockpit with the pilot and co-pilot for more than two hours. At one point, she was alone with the pilot.
Although it is illegal for an unauthorized person to be in an airplane cockpit during a flight, a PIA spokesperson told GEO News that a single passenger in the cockpit was “not a security concern.”
Also in May, a pilot was caught napping in a passenger seat while allegedly leaving the aircraft in the hands of a pilot-in-training for more than two hours, according to The Telegraph. Although the pilot, Amir Akhtar Hashmi denied the allegations, he was suspended in September according to The Tribune Express. Hashmi is a former president of the Pakistan Air Lines Pilots Association (PALPA.)
The airline also raised international eyebrows that same month when an entire cabin crew was detained by U.K. authorities at Heathrow International Airport after drugs were found on board the flight. The crew was questioned on suspicion of smuggling drugs into the country by hiding them in airplane panels.
In February, the airline also received international attention when two pilots allowed up to 10 extra passengers to board a aircraft bound for Medina, Saudi Arabia from Karachi, Pakistan, forcing them to stand for the three-hour flight. Those pilots have also been suspended.
The airline’s public perception hasn’t been helped by the ouster of CEO Bernd Hildenbrand, a German national, who was suspended in April on charges of corruption after allegedly leasing Sri Lankan airplanes for inflated prices and costing the company millions.
While being investigated, Hildenbrand was placed on a no-fly list that prohibited him from leaving Pakistan. He later received a 30-day waiver to the travel ban and immediately left the country. He has not returned to face charges despite a summons.
Among the charges levied against Hildenbrand was the illegal sale of an older A-310 airplane to a German museum. The aircraft, valued at about 3.51 million dollars, was reportedly leased for around $50,000. The museum, however, denies ownership of the plane and in what has become known as the “curious case of the missing PIA jet,” no one in Pakistan is able to pinpoint what exactly happened to the plane after it was leased last year to a UK company for use in a movie production.
Some lawmakers have suggested Hildenbrand took the airplane with him when he left for Germany.