A senior Pakistan International Airlines pilot has been suspended after being pictured sleeping on a London-bound aircraft he was supposed to be flying.

Captain Amir Akhtar Hashmi was spotted under a blue blanket in a business class seat, having allegedly left a trainee in charge of the aircraft

A picture of him dozing emerged on social media and a passenger on the flight from Islamabad to Heathrow complained to the senior member of the cabin crew.

The pilot was meant to be in control for the eight-hour flight, with more than 300 people on board, but is believed to have handed over responsibility for the aircraft soon after flight PK-785 took off.

He is reported to have slept for two-and-a-half hours during the flight on April 26.

An airline source told the Pakistani newspaper Dawn that management had tried to put off an inquiry but had to “succumb to pressure from above” from government officials after the photograph went public.

Hashmi was supposed to be training junior pilots during the 4,000-mile journey, The Times reported.

PIA spokesman Danyal Gilani told local media that Hashmi, who “compromised air safety and put the lives of over 305 passengers on board at risk”, has been taken off from flying duty pending an investigation.