Pakistan International Airline (PIA) officials slaughtered a black goat on a runway as a ‘hedge against accidents’, prompting scathing criticism and widespread ridicule on social media.
The photo, taken at Islamabad National Airport on Sunday, showed a group of men slaughtering the goat right next to a PIA ATR plane. Initially believed to have been Photoshopped, the airline subsequently confirmed that it was genuine.
Pakistanis have been asking questions about the safety of ATR planes since a crash killed 47 people earlier this month. Another ATR plane reported technical issues at take-off a few days later, prompting PIA to temporarily ground its nine ATR planes.
The airline distanced itself from the goat slaughter, saying it was done by some local employees “as a gesture of gratitude over the clearance of the first ATR” and was not a management decision.
In Pakistani culture, killing a black goat is believed to ward off evil spirits.
According to Pakististani daily The Express Tribune, staff are terrified of flying in the ATR planes.
“Ever since the flight PK-661 crashed, the staff sits fingers crossed whenever a flight takes off,” one source told the paper.