LAHORE - Cancellation of accommodation contract of a hotel owned and run by the office-bearers of PIA employees union has been projected as the real story behind the Air League’s recent strike in an inquiry report conducted by the National Flag Carrier’s vigilance wing.

Low salaries and poor working conditions were highlighted previously as the major reason behind holding protest by the  union.

The director vigilance (report available with the The Nation) has revealed that hotel contract was cancelled on the complaint of a group of transit passengers arriving from various stations at Lahore airport and traveling onwards for Multan on PK-682 on September 16. The group of passengers was sent to the Suprout Court Hotel in Lahore. Passengers lodged a very serious complaint regarding the shameful behavior and environment they faced at the hotel. Statement of the passengers was recorded. Passengers stated that they were made to sit in a small van along with their baggage just like animals and they had to load their baggage on their own. They were not served the breakfast despite repeated requests and the lunch given was even not worth eating. The flight was late but passengers were dropped at the airport much earlier. They also complained against the Passenger Handling Service (PHS) staff for not providing the dinner as per SOP at the airport.

Negligence of the PHS further escalated the annoyance of already irritated passengers who were provided the refreshment after repeated requests.  These passengers then lodged their protest in the departure lounge against the behavior and culture they faced at the hotel. They shouted and created a scene which resulted in embarrassment for the company. The matter has been probed and it has been reported by the reliable sources that the Suprout Court Hotel is owned by PIA Management Information Service (MIS) staff Aliya Mujeeb and her husband.

The hotel is now run in partnership with CBA representative Hamid But P-57562 (Brother of CBA President –Lahore, Ahmad But), Yasir Aslam P-65355 and Haris P-65330 (Accounts Asstt.). It has been learnt that they have taken the said hotel on contract at the rate of Rs.200,000 per month. Transfer Passenger’s Cell at Lahore has instructions from the CBA (all the CBA members are deputed for transit duty) that all the passengers should be sent to Sprout Court Hotel. Taking notice of the issue, Chairman PIA terminated the contract of the said hotel and CBA office-bearers were struggling hard to get the contract restored but director vigilance was not in position to restore the same at his own.  Sources in the airlines said that Air League office-bearers and members consider Deputy Station Manager PIA Moonis Naqvi the main hurdle in their business and they have also locked his office at Lahore airport and asked the junior staff not to open the office since Moonis had been transferred from Lahore. But when contacted Moonis said he had not received any transfer orders so far from management side rather he said, “I have been assigned another charge of manager technical ground support (TGS) which is a feather in my cap”.

Another report unearthed that Sprout Court Hotel management did not even hesitate to transport Indian passengers to their hotel which is sheer violation of Immigration laws.

It is worth mentioning here that the Sprout court Hotel has 14 rooms. On twin share basis, the said hotel can accommodate only 28 passengers but four passengers were kept in one room two on bed and two on mattress in the most pathetic condition. There was no air-conditioning due to load shedding and there was only a small generator for the lights. Two of the rooms were completely in dark with no lights at all.

When deputy station manager tried to raise voice for the passengers he was harassed and locked in a room by the hotel management and next day an application was filed against him with police station concerned alleging him of being drunk and interfering in hotel business.

 DSM put the matter before the management which remained unmoved and no action was taken against the responsible. When contacted secretary general of Air League Mehmood Bokhari said Air League had no concern with hotel business. President of Air League said that those who went on strike had no concern with Air League and he would initiate an inquiry into the issue. About hotel issue, he said since inquiry was initiated and facts would come to light after finalisation of inquiry, so he was not in a position to comment on the issue before findings.