Pakistan’s national airline has been widely mocked for sacrificing a goat next to a plane to ward off bad luck, weeks after a crash which killed 47 people.
An ATR turbo-prop plane, operated by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), crashed into a mountain on December 7, bursting into flames and killing all those on board.
PIA subsequently grounded its fleet of 10 ATR pending detailed inspections.
But today, as the airline cleared the planes for take-off again, some employees went for a more traditional safety measure – sacrificing a black goat on the runway at Islamabad airport, only yards from the aircraft.
Social media users immediately leapt on the image, criticising the airline for putting superstition ahead of safety standards.
Twitter user Asim Yousafzai wrote: ‘This is no joke: #Pakistan invents a new safety measure for its crashing air carrier #PIA.’
Another user Rahoon Rashid said: ‘(Black goats) don’t keep the planes up and flying, efficiency does’.
The Dawn newspaper ran a front-page story on Monday headlined ‘PIA: on a wing and a prayer’.
PIA spokesman Danyal Gilani said the sacrifice was a ‘gesture of gratitude’ to Allah by some employees before the resumption of flights.
He said it was was not sanctioned by the airline’s management.
The airline’s chairman Muhammad Azam Saigol last week tendered his resignation citing ‘personal reasons’.
PIA has historically had a poor reputation for safety and customer service but prior to the December 7 crash it had gone without incident for 10 years and received a 7 out of 7 rating on the highly-cited AirlineRatings.com, which launched its annual listing in 2013.
But a 2014 analysis by US statistician Nate Silver based on data from 1985-2014, found the airline to have had a consistently high number of what he termed ‘near-misses’ – an indicator of risk.