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Sun 2 Sep 2018 09:28 AM

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Pakistan's Shaheen Air given permission to fly stranded Hajj pilgrims home

The airline has faced mounting debts and impending legal action against it from Pakistani authorities

Pakistan's Shaheen Air given permission to fly stranded Hajj pilgrims home
Shaheen Air International understood that no action would be taken against the airline during the post-Hajj operation.

Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has allowed the country’s Shaheen Air International (SAI) to resume post-Hajj flights from Saudi Arabia, a day after a refusal to extend the airline’s regular public transport licence left 350 pilgrims stranded in Madinah for more than a day.

According to Pakistani media, the airline’s licence – which is renewed every quarter – expired on August 30, and that the airline has outstanding dues of 1.4 billion Pakistani rupees ($11.38 million) and legal action pending against it.

“We were granted permission by the CAA early Saturday morning, subsequently, our flight departed to Madinah to bring the pilgrims back to the country,” Shaheen Air marketing director Zohaib Hasan was quoted as saying by Dawn newspaper.

“We apologise to the pilgrims for the inconvenience and assure that the rest of the post-Hajj operation will operate peacefully.”

Additionally, Hasan said that the CAA had assured the airline that no action will be taken against the airline during the post-Hajj operation “to ensure smooth management of the journey of the pilgrims who will be coming back to their homeland.”

“The court has also ordered the same,” he added.

In July, permission for SAI to operate flights scheduled on the Islamabad-Dubai-Islamabad route were revoked by the CAA due to the airline's debts.

In response, the airline was forced to cut its fleet by six aircraft, putting them on sublease to Royal Jordanian.

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