Several passengers having confirmed air tickets to travel from Gilgit to Islamabad were not allowed to board the plane at Gilgit Airport on Tuesday morning.
Sources confirmed that the passengers were swapped for a large delegation of politicians and government officials, including Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan Syed Mehdi Shah, Chief Secretary Gilgit-Baltistan Sikandar Sultan Raja and other secretaries. Authorities at the airport told the passengers to go home.
The passengers, majorities of whom were planning to run important errands in Islamabad and elsewhere on tough schedules, protested against the move, saying PIA officials cancelled their confirmed tickets to accommodate VIPs.
Some of the passengers were scheduled to appear in tests and interviews in Islamabad while others said they had important appointments. The commuters also included students, patients, women and the elderly.
“I have important official appointment in Islamabad, but the PIA officials cancelled my confirmed ticket at the last moment to accommodate some government officials and politicians,” said Mr. Ajaz. “Confirmed tickets of dozens of other passengers were also cancelled.”
The passengers protested against the cancellation of their tickets and denounced what they said was “VIP culture and injustice.”