The Civil Aviation Authority of Oman has stopped all Pakistani flights that take off from Islamabad and Lahore airports from landing in reaction to Pakistani civil aviation's refusal to allow a Gulf Air aircraft to land. in Islamabad.
On July 3, an Islamabad bound Gulf Air flight from Muscat was refused landing at Islamabad Airport despite several requests from the top Omani officials and assurances from Pakistani authorities.
The flight was made to land at Lahore airport forcing the airline to send its passengers to Islamabad by road.
The flight's schedule was in accordance with the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the two countries on November 7, 1998 allowing the Omani carrier to operate flights to Peshawar, Lahore and Islamabad.
Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said at that time they could not allow the designated flight to land due to 'infrastructural constraints' at Islamabad Airport.
The Omani government in reaction immediately stopped a PIA flight from taking off from Muscat, which was later allowed to leave after Pakistani ambassador intervened. Oman however intimated to Pakistan that henceforward it would not allow any Pakistani flight to and that flies from Islamabad and Lahore. This forced PIA to cancel its flight Pk-229 and Pk-230 on Wednesday. PIA is now carrying all its passengers first to Karachi and then to Muscat.
"Negotiations are underway", a PIA spokesman told The News. He was hopeful the matter would be settled within a couple of days.
A PIA director lambasted the CAA over the MoU and said the authority did not safeguard the interests of national flag carrier. Another high official at PIA explaining drawbacks of such MoUs said take for example Emirates Airlines, which is not only operating for Pakistan-Dubai but also carries Pakistani passengers to the rest of the world to the great disadvantage of Pakistani airlines. He hinted at the need for reviewing all such MoUs.
Contrary to PIA officials' statements, a high official at CAA put the entire blame on PIA and said the authority had taken the step according to their wishes. "Before signing all MoUs, we get the consent of PIA," he said asking why didn't they raise any objection at that time.
Source: The News.
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