New Delhi, September 23 – Look who is smuggling iPhones now?On Monday, the entire crew of PIAâ€™s flight from London was detained by customs officials in Lahore for six hours for allegedly smuggling 24 iPhones worth about Rs.2.5 million along with foreign currency, PTI reported.
This was the second such incident in a month.The phones were found hidden inside the luggage of an airhostess. Customs officials at Allama Iqbal International Airport got a tip-off that the crew of PK-758, operated by Captain Amir Hashmi, also the PIA Pilot Association president, would smuggle a large quantity of high-end cell phones (worth overRs.105,000 each) from the UK.
â€�The customs authorities took Mr Hashmi and 11 other crew members into custody after 24 iPhones were recovered from the luggage of an air hostess,” an official said today.
“The accused are office-bearers of the PIA staff union (CBA) and they did it under a plan. They first managed to get their duties changed by requesting the actual crew members for the flight in connivance with the relevant admin staff,” Dawn quoted a senior Pakistan International Airlines official as saying.
He said 5,000 pounds ($8,162) were also recovered from the possession of Hashmi, who defended himself saying under the customs law of the land any passenger could carry foreign currency up to $10,000 while traveling abroad.”Therefore I have committed no crime and it is a conspiracy to defame me by my rivals in the association,” Hashmi said.
After detention, the customs officials freed the crew finally on the intervention of Adviser to Prime Minister on Aviation Shujaat Azeem, The Nation reported today.A case was registered against the air hostess from whose luggage the iPhones were recovered.
The incident caused panic at the airport, besides delaying a Manchester-bound PIAflight for a couple of hours, after the crew staged a sit-in against the detention of their colleagues, calling for an independent inquiry into the case.PIA spokesman Mashhood Tajwar told PTI that it has launched an inquiry into the incident.
“Strict action will be taken if any of the PIA employees is found in smuggling of smart phones and other articles,” he said.This is the second such incident in less than a month in which the PIA crew was involved in the smuggling of currency and expensive mobile phones.
Last month, the customs authorities recovered 37 smart phones of different brands, three tablets and 5,000 pounds from a crew member of PIA flight PK-786 from London.During interrogation, he revealed it was his first attempt to smuggle cell phones. A case was registered.