Lahore: The entire crew of a PIA flight from London to Lahore was detained by customs officials for six hours for allegedly smuggling 24 iphones worth about Rs 2.5 million and also foreign currency, the second such incident in a month.

The customs officials at Allama Iqbal International Airport got a tip-off that the crew of PK-758 flight, operated by Capt Amir Hashmi, also the PIA Pilot Association president, would smuggle a large quantity of high-end cell phones (worth over Rs 105,000 each) from the UK.

“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 on Monday.

“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 (USD 8162) 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 USD 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 on Monday.

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 PIA flight 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.

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