Pakistan’s state-run flag carrier is fast becoming better known for the shenanigans of its pilots, with the latest instance being a Tokyo to Beijing flight during which the pilot allowed a Chinese woman to remain in the cockpit for almost the entire duration of the journey.
Earlier this year, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has been hit by reports that seven passengers were allowed to travel standing in the aisle on a Pakistan to Saudi Arabia flight and that a pilot took a two-and-a-half hour nap in business class during an Islamabad to London flight.
Captain Shahzad Aziz, the pilot of PIA flight PK-853 from Tokyo to Beijing, invited a young Chinese woman into the cockpit earlier this, according to a Geo News reporter who was on the same aircraft.
Aziz spoke to the woman and exchanged phone numbers with her before the first officer came and called her into the cockpit. She remained inside the cockpit for more than two hours. At one stage, the junior officer left the cockpit and Aziz was alone inside with the woman, the channel reported.
The woman emerged from the cockpit only after the plane landed and Geo News aired footage of her that was shot by its reporter on his mobile phone. The reporter said he was threatened by members of the crew not to film the incident.
The report said the pilot had been accused of endangering the lives of the 150-odd passengers who were on the flight. The Chinese woman declined to answer questions from the Geo News reporter.
According to Pakistani law, unauthorised persons are not allowed into the cockpit at any time during flights as their presence is considered a safety hazard. The pilot is responsible for ensuring that no unauthorised person enters restricted sections of the aircraft.
In December 2015, a PIA pilot faced an inquiry for allowing Reham Khan, the ex-wife of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, to sit in the cockpit during a flight from London to Lahore.
Last month, PIA took a senior pilot off duty for allegedly sleeping on an Islamabad to London flight, risking the lives of more than 300 passengers on board by handing over the aircraft to a trainee.
Amir Akhtar Hashmi took a two-and-a-half hour nap in business class soon after the flight took off from Islamabad on April 26.
Earlier this year, PIA conducted an investigation after it emerged that seven passengers had travelled from Karachi to Medina in Saudi Arabia while standing in the aisle of an aircraft. The incident was described by authorities as a serious breach of safety regulations.
PIA has become the butt of jokes with official figures showing the airline has more than 750 staff for each aircraft, against a global standard of about 200 employees. The airline’s total liabilities have been estimated at more than Rs 300 billion.