Shaheen Air plane off to China to bring back stranded passengers

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The ordeal of passengers of the Shaheen Air International (SAI) who have been stranded in a Chinese city since July 29 is hopefully coming to an end as an aircraft of the airline left for Guangzhou in the early hours of Monday morning, it is learnt.

Responding to Dawn queries on Sunday night, SAI representative Zoheb Hasan said that the faulty part (pipe) of the aircraft had been flown in from overseas and the airline’s engineers/technicians had installed it in the aircraft, which would bring 46 stranded passengers back home.

If everything went as planned, the passengers on board the SAI flight would return by Monday/Tuesday.

When contacted, Pakistan International Airlines spokesperson Mashhood Tajwar earlier said that at SAI’s request, the PIA was arranging the aircraft and seeking permissions from the countries in the flight path, but now the SAI had informed the PIA that it was sending its own aircraft.

Meanwhile, Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson Pervez George told Dawn that the new spare part had been fixed in the SAI aircraft. He said the CAA staff tested/examined the SAI aircraft and declared it airworthy. He said the entire process had been completed and the aircraft left on Monday early morning.

The issue started when the CAA suspended the SAI flight operations, except Haj flights, because of non-payment of its dues of over Rs1.5 billion.

On July 29, the SAI flight to Guangzhou was cancelled and over 300 passengers were left stranded at the Chinese airport.

Later, some passengers were refunded their tickets, while some others were transferred to hotels and provided food, etc.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, taking notice of media reports, had ordered immediate repatriation of the passengers.

The CAA gave special permission to the SAI to send a plane to bring back the passengers. But on inspection the CAA engineers found out that the aircraft being sent was faulty and declared it “non airworthy”.

The SAI planned to bring the passengers through a chartered flight and also approached the PIA. The SAI would be saving money now as hiring a chartered flight or bringing the passengers through other airline would have been relatively costlier than using its own aircraft.

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