"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: Noman
Full Name: Noman Zafar
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Soomro's 'royal pilgrimage' cost PIA $2.8m


LAHORE-A visit of former caretaker Prime Minister Muhammadmian Soomro to Saudi Arabia for Umrah cost PIA $2.8 million while a Boeing 777 was used for the purpose, an expert on aviation said that the aircraft could have earned $2.8 million had it been utilised for the commercial flights.
Perhaps Mian Soomro went to Makkah to seek divine guidance, but it is worth mentioning here that the Prime Minister was not invited by the Saudi Arabian authorities.
Boeing 777, was used with VVIP configuration, sleeping beds, bathroom, conference area, sitting and dining room facilities. The said aircraft was in a PIA hangar atleast 48 hours before the 'Royal pilgrimage' to Makkah, undergoing checks and configuration changes.
Interim PM Soomro was not even officially invited for pilgrimage, unlike the Iranian President Ahmedinejad, who went on a normal aircraft, while being an official Royal guest.
A source in CAA said that Britain's Queen Elizabeth who is also the Constitutional Monarch of Australia went to that country by a British Airways scheduled flight, with part of First Class cordoned off from passengers. Since the visit was at the request of Australia, their govt paid all the expenses incurred upon the visit, the sources added.
The flight to Jeddah is less than 4 hours, where the aircraft remained parked for 4 days, while the PM was seeking repentance from the Almighty Allah.
However, PIA in the process lost $2.8 Million that it could have earned, had the aircraft been utilised for commercial flights. The airline is presently facing losses of over Rs 1.2 billion a month.
The sources said that Soomro during his brief tenure as interim PM, was instrumental in getting extension for an executive in PIA Safety Division, beyond the age of superannuation, in addition to other appointments and promotions.
PIA is unable to provide capacity to operate the 14 weekly scheduled flights to Saudi Arabia over the ages as per bilateral agreement. Following grounding of Boeing 747's, on which PIA had invested $85 Million on procurement of 17 new engines in 2007, with $20 Million worth of spare parts in store, has to settle for A310 on Saudi Arabia routes.
The long range Boeing 777 has been taken off to other sectors.
The fourth flight to New York which was due to start in May with induction of a brand new Boeing 777 in March 2008, has already been scrapped due to shortage of aircrafts. With grounding of Boeing 737 the airline is in crisis and one hopes  that the VVIP flights will not be planned frequently as done by the interim govt.
When contacted PIA authorities said that in the past airbus aircraft was used for the VVIP movement but now the rulers use aircraft they want.
They said that in the past Qatar Airways had donated an Airbus to PIA for the same purpose but that was also not in use.

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