Heathrow Airport downgrades Pak flag carrier, issues warning

Heathrow Airport downgrades Pak flag carrier, issues warning

Authorities at London's Heathrow Airport have downgraded Pakistani flag carrier for violations of UK laws by the PIA crew, who carried restricted goods in excess of their personal allowances.

The Border Force Heathrow has included PIA in the 'yellow category' because its crew was involved in carrying restricted items in excess of their duty-free personal allowances.

The authorities issued the warning to PIA in a letter.At an airport, an airline can be placed in any of the three categories —- green (satisfactory), yellow (warning) and red (stop operating).

"If the PIA fails to comply the rules, it may be issued 'red card'," meaning it has to stop from operating there.

"A number of your employees, when operating as crew, have been identified as failing to comply with Border Force policy and/or UK law," reads the letter to PIA.

"If the PIA non-compliance is identified in the future, the use of the Heathrow Crew Clearance facility at Building 820 will be withdrawn," the letter said.

The consequence of the action will be that the "PIA crews will have to clear the UK Border via the passenger terminals, along with your arriving passengers."

"Over recent months there have been a number of occasions when ineligible persons have attempted to use the Heathrow Crew Clearance facility.

"There have also been persons encountered there who have been found carrying restricted items or goods in excess of their duty-free personal allowances. There have been a number of reminders circulated to airlines to remind you who is eligible to use the Crew Clearance facilitates at Heathrow," it said.

Under the law, all operating crew members travelling from outside the EU are required to make a customs declaration. This applies whether or not they have obtained any goods abroad or during the flight, the letter said.

Warning PIA in clear terms, the airport authorities said: "As a law-enforcement agency, Border Force will prosecute those persons committing serious offences to the fullest extent of the law."

The airport management asked PIA to advise its employees that continued non-compliance with Border Control law and policy, on arrival in the UK, would not be tolerated any more.

"This includes instances where the crew declaration has not been completed by every member of operating crew, prior to arrival at Building 820. The PIA is one of those airlines with the highest incidence of non-compliance in its terminal.

PIA spokesperson Hanif Rana admitted its crew carried restricted items in excess of their personal allowances.

"The PIA management has taken notice of the matter and issued strict directions to its employees in this regard," he said.

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