LAHORE  - The PIA has reportedly allocated more than 50 per cent quota of Umrah seats to a single travel agent of Faisalabad, leaving the remaining half of seats for as many as 350 agents of the provincial capital. Travel agents called it a serious irregularity.

Sources say that Lyallpur Aviation has strong ties with the national flag carrier. Some other circles of the travel agents in the airline are of the view that allocation of the seats is part of the PIA business.

A Sales Promotion Officer (SPO) said that during this Umrah season, owner of the said travel agency got about 50 seats in every Umrah flight while there were four weekly flights from Lahore.

An Airlines Sales Department officer seeking anonymity said that Lahore station was on the top of the list in revenue collection while major chunk of quota was given to agent of Faisalabad. He claimed that from January to March 2015 Lyallpur Aviation was allotted 50 seats in every flight while there were 350 travel agents in Lahore who were selling the tickets of PIA but they were left at the mercy of Lyallpur Aviation, said a SPO.  “We are 10 SPOs and every SPO is dealing with 25 to 30 travel agents but for the month of January every SPO is given 30 seats for the first 15 days of January,” said an SPO.

A travel agent said that owner of Lyallpur Aviation was an influential one who directly managed his seats from PIA headquarters from where Director Marketing issued him the said quota due to reasons best known to him.

An officer said that if PIA management thought it was justified then management should end the revenue target given to Lahore station.

Some circles of the airlines said that huge corruption was committed in the allotment of Umrah seats quota to above said travel agent. An officer of sales department said that after receiving such huge quota now travel agent would sell the tickets against high rates. Ultimately, these high rates would bring bad names to airline, he added.  When contacted some travel agents of the city, they had different opinions on the issue. Bokhari Travel Umrah Manager Khalid Saeed said that it was part of business and issuing anyone seats quota was not an irregularity. While another travel agent who opposed the decision said that it was not fair.

When contacted PIA Lahore District Manager Umar Daraz said that it was not related to him but Passengers Sales Manager (PSM) should be contacted in this regard. When this scribe contacted PSM Baber Zaman said that though distribution of seats was not fair but airline would try to accommodate its travel agents of Lahore through extra Umrah flights.

This scribe also tried to contact owner of Lyallpur Aviation but he was not available.