As if the pilot scandal was not enough, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) finds itself embroiled in a new ticketing scandal.
PIA Ticketing Scandal: How PIA Ticket Agents Scammed Their Own Airline
As reported by Dawn, Pakistan’s leading English newspaper, a PIA ticket office in Sialkot, a city in Punjab, Pakistan’s largest province, took part in a ticketing scheme that defrauded PIA of millions of Pakistani rupees in revenue.
During the pandemic, PIA suspended much of its longhaul service. When repatriation flights resumed, PIA policy strictly forbid old, unused tickets from being used. Instead, passengers had to buy new tickets (a scandal in itself, but not the focus of this story) at double the price of normal tariffs and non-refundable.
Ticket agents and airport staff were instructed not to honor existing tickets. It was a classic supply/demand issue with demand far outstripping supply. But rogue agents in the Sialkot office colluded with ticket agents to re-issue existing tickets to Milan and Paris in exchange for a passenger payout…directly to them.
With the scandal now discovered (we don’t know how), PIA is performing a full investigation. It is estimated that 8 million Rps (about $50,000) was pilfered by PIA employees and that, in turn, deprived PIA of a far larger amount if would have made it tickets were sold at full price.
Fake pilot licenses and unscrupulous ticket agents are hardly unique to PIA. But this latest news is like rubbing salt in a wound. For the sake of its tattered reputation, PIA needs a strong leader and government partners who will fundamentally transform the image and reputation of PIA. Whatever is actually true…and I know the truth is often much more complicated than it appears at the surface…the reputation of PIA continues to take a hit and there is simply no reason why this must be.
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image: Aero Pixels / Wikimedia Commons