Agents looting PIA passengers going to Saudi Arabia with impunity: report

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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistanis who are aspiring to go to Saudi Arabia are swindled by the agent mafia as they are paying up to Rs200,000 for a one-way air ticket due to the availability of limited international flights

The Saudi government earlier on Thursday had granted special permission to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to operate 21 additional flights – on weekly basis – between the two countries.

According to a spokesperson of the national flag carrier, with the involvement of Prime Minister Imran Khan, 21 more flights were added to the PIA flight operations, bringing the capacity to fly 25,500 passengers.

He also informed that all nationals would be able to return to their homes and workplaces in Saudi Arabia before September 30.

However, the situation has worsened for the passengers as the rate of air tickets for Saudi Arabia being sold by the travel agents ranges from Rs130, 000 to Rs200, 000.

A travel agent who requested anonymity admitted to The News that there are people who have earned extra profit worth Rs3 million by selling only 25 air tickets of different categories in a single day.

“Hundreds of passengers approach us daily for air tickets but we cannot accommodate all of them due to limited availability of air tickets,” he said.

The aspiring passengers, when approached PIA, were told that there were no tickets available and they should get in touch with their travel agents to resolve the matter.

The situation has exacerbated especially for those passengers who have to reach the kingdom by September 30 otherwise they would lose their jobs.

Reportedly, many of them even approached the government lawmakers to rectify the situation but it seemed every one of them was “helpless” against the unruly travel agents.

PIA’s spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez Khan in his written reply to The News said: “We have been asking everyone not to pay a single penny over the published fare by us. People have the option to come to us and our offices. We have issued 1,900 air tickets today to the passengers from our offices in Pakistan.”

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