Plan drawn up for new airline: official

Published: February 5, 2016
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Decides not to hold talks with protesters; forms panel to start action. PHOTO: FILE

Decides not to hold talks with protesters; forms panel to start action. PHOTO: FILE

Decides not to hold talks with protesters; forms panel to start action. PHOTO: FILE Decides not to hold talks with protesters; forms panel to start action. PHOTO: FILE
ISLAMABAD / LAHORE / KARACHI: 

Instead of initiating talks with the striking Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) workers, the government has decided to launch a new airline within four months, The Express Tribune has learnt.

According to well-placed sources, the government has, in principle, decided to start a new airline on the basis of a wet lease with minimum staff.

Air Indus plans to resume operation this month

“The company will be raised within 90 days to 120 days. The new airline will operate planes on basis of wet lease and services of the crew, staff and other human resources will be acquired through outside sources,” said an official privy to the development.

He said the total strength of the company will be from 500 to 600 employees. All process of ticketing, buying and collection, etc., will be outsourced. The new airline will cover all routes inside and outside the country.

The government will run the new company like an autonomous corporation and look after its management while in practice it will be like a private company. The new airline will be parallel to the PIA and will operate separately. Officials said all concerned quarters of the country have not only given a go-ahead to the government’s idea but have also vowed their support in making it successful.

No talks with PIA strikers

Meanwhile, the federal government has decided not to hold talks with the strikers, who have blocked PIA’s operations, and has formed a four-member panel to start action against strikers under the Pakistan Essential Services (Maintenance) Act 1952.

Killing an airline?

The act bars the protesting PIA members from participating in any union activity and says that: “Any person found guilty of an offence under this act shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year and shall also be liable to a fine”.

According to a notification issued on Thursday ,“In exercise of the powers conferred under section (7),(3)  of Pakistan Essential Services (Maintenance) Act 1952, the federal government is pleased to authorise following persons for lodging complaints against the [PIA] employees accused of offences under the act ibid.

The panel includes Aviation Division’s Senior Joint Secretary Captain (retd) Ahmad Latif, the PIA’s Director HR and Coordination in Karachi Rashid Ahmad and Deputy General Manager HR in Lahore Musa Khan and Deputy General Manager HR Peshawar Mubarak Hayat.

However, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid has said the government is doing everything possible to ensure that employees returned to work. Speaking to the media in Lahore, he said under the Essential Services Act PIA employees could not go on strike.

With open skies, airports likely to generate huge revenues

“Because of this, the call for a strike itself is illegal,” he said.  Rashid claimed that the initial call for a strike by the unions had failed since PIA operations had continued. “The PIA employees were still in their offices and flights were running smoothly before the incident on Tuesday,” he said.

He said since their call had failed they had decided to use their muscle and forcefully closed offices.

He also expressed sorrow over the deaths of the employees. “The Sindh police and other law enforcing agencies are working to catch the culprits,” he said.  The minister said the prime minister had assured all employees that they would not lose their jobs as a result of privatisation.

“They should understand this and come back to work,” he said.

Contracts with other airlines

Meanwhile, to facilitate the customers affected by the strike, the PIA management has also finalised arrangements with Air Blue to accept PIA’s confirmed ticket-holding passengers for flights to Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Dubai, Muscat, Jeddah and Riyadh.

IMF agrees to delay PIA sell-off for six months

The management has also finalised arrangements with Shaheen Air to accept PIA’s confirmed ticket passengers on domestic flights and with Etihad Airways to enable international passengers to travel through Etihad after endorsement from PIA’s local office.

The passengers may contact PIA’s service counters at airports to convert their tickets to these private airlines. Passengers having PIA’s confirmed tickets to any international destination can also contact PIA for conversion of their tickets. They will also be adjusted in different international airlines.

Solidarity with PIA workers

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Thursday condemned the midnight raids and arrests of Peoples Unity leaders of PIA and asked the government to ‘desist from bloodshed’ and ‘enforced disappearances’ of the PIA employees.

“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his ministers are bent upon targeting the peaceful protesters to snatch the public assets and distribute the same among his cronies,” Bilawal said.

Airfares take off when PIA doesn’t

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan also showed his party’s solidarity with the PIA protestors outside Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport and said the government needed to launch action against inflation and corruption rather than curbing the protests by the PIA workers.

“The PTI stands with the protesting PIA workers,” Imran said, while criticising the government’s privatisation policy.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2016.

Reader Comments (40)

  • Irfan
    Feb 5, 2016 - 7:09AM

    Super bad idea ,first how are you going to ensure that it won’t go into losses or ruined by governments in future, second do you know the impact of this airline on PIA ,it wil decrease the value of PIA and It will bring PIA to scrap valueRecommend

  • Malik Saab
    Feb 5, 2016 - 9:08AM

    Name the new airlines as “Strike International airlines” SIA as this is the reason of its birth.Recommend

  • Malik Saab
    Feb 5, 2016 - 9:15AM

    @Irfan:
    PIA is under the debt of 360 billion rupees ( Around 3.5 billion US Dollars). So basically PIA do not even has a scrap value. Its value is Minus 360 Billion Rupees right now. No one is willing to buy it even for a token value of Rs 1
    So essentially PIA is already a huge liability. It is not an Asset anymore. So what impact you are talking about?Recommend

  • Adnan Siddiqi
    Feb 5, 2016 - 9:42AM

    @Irfan:

    PIA deserves to be scrapped at a junkyard with extreme prejudice. Instead of making a new airline, govt. should disperse all salvageable assets of PIA between Airblue and Shaheen and let them run national and international operations.Recommend

  • ShaikhMustafa
    Feb 5, 2016 - 10:02AM

    As regards the idea of having this new airline service international routes, the rules of Pakistan Civil Aviation stipulate that only after completion of two years of successful domestic operations can any airline start operating international routes. So unless the govt intends to violate caa rules there is absolutely no legal possibility of this new airline servicing intl routes right away. This appears to be yet another brilliant idea of the govt. They are thinking that may be starting an airline is the same as starting a metro train project. By the way these striking people whom the govt has only just started to despise so badly are their own people whom they use at different instances to get their way in public sector organisations. Recommend

  • Sodomite
    Feb 5, 2016 - 10:23AM

    @Malik Saab:
    If you think it is not worth anything then I will buy it and show everybody what it is really worth. The new airline will not get new landing and take off slots in the busy slot restricted airports of UK and Europe. You can all kiss goodbye to them as Ethihad is Pakistan’s New Airline. Sharifs had bad intentions to start with. Recommend

  • Old Ravian
    Feb 5, 2016 - 10:37AM

    PIA is becoming a test case for the Government. If they can handle it successfully, a number of other loss making government enterprises will be next on the line… and with much less fuss. Recommend

  • sabi
    Feb 5, 2016 - 11:15AM

    If not PIA be it API, the new flag career for the country with very little very professional staff.Let computers make the tricks.
    More people to fly with!Recommend

  • Aftab
    Feb 5, 2016 - 11:32AM

    The idea is goodRecommend

  • Murtaza
    Feb 5, 2016 - 11:41AM

    There will be no new airline. They are just saying this to put pressure on the PIA workers. You can’t just create a new airline overnight like this. “500-600 employees with lots of functions outsourced.” Who are they going to outsource to? Are there even any private sector companies that do these things considering there was no market for it before now?Recommend

  • Ashfaq11
    Feb 5, 2016 - 11:42AM

    Everyone is criticising instead is suggesting alternatives. I know some PIA union employees who have never gone to work but still get paid. The issue needs to be dealt with one way or the other and parallel operation will ensure service disruption is minimisedRecommend

  • Karachiite
    Feb 5, 2016 - 12:03PM

    Could be the end of an era. What amazing times PIA has seen, with Queen Elizabeth once calling it her favourite airline. And what these unions have turned it into now. Thank you PPP and PALPA, and all other unions which have destroyed PIA and refuse to make it better.Recommend

  • ZAK
    Feb 5, 2016 - 12:08PM

    Passengers should exercise patience for the time being. They will get world class facilities in near future.
    PIA employees who want to continue their servie under new management control may be hired under new management terms and condition.

    Unions are for protection of rights of employees rather they challenge writ of government.
    PIAC in loss last few years while other international airlines profits are on the rise.Recommend

  • Amanullah Khan
    Feb 5, 2016 - 12:18PM

    Agree with Ravian, PIA is now a test of nerves case for the Government. Proposal for establishing a new airline seems more to me, as a trick than a reality, to scare the striking PIA employees. It can also be an offer to their own people of Air League to disassociate them from the strike. In case of becoming it a reality the Company shall be needing experienced people and those are available in their political arm. Who so ever has planned it he/she seems to be a crook. It has multi dimensional tricks but the success seems not sure. It is in the interest of the Government and country to come to negotiations and resolve the issue amicably. Recommend

  • salman
    Feb 5, 2016 - 2:36PM

    Ironic that nawaz while in opposition was against selling PIA, and wanted to improve it (google his interview on GEO). Now he wants to sell it… Wonder how much he, family and friends would have gained from the planned PIA sale? Can’t put anything past a certified loan defaulter and suspected money launderer like nawaz.

    Nawaz really is becoming the king of u-turns.

    I thought pmln had the most experienced economic team, as they kept telling us… Doesn’t seem like it.

    Their failure to successfully privatise PIA is second only to the petrol shortage they caused in Jan2015. Recommend

  • Feb 5, 2016 - 2:44PM

    Great idea, start new airline with same planes, structure etc. After completing all legal procedure just privatise it. Recommend

  • adnans hair
    Feb 5, 2016 - 4:22PM

    Will the new airline be called “Metro plane”? Recommend

  • Michael
    Feb 5, 2016 - 4:44PM

    What a Joke, does it really make sense to start a new airline?? when there is already an existing run PIA, why dosent Shahid Khakhan Abbassi run PIA and make it profitable just like he has done it for Air Blue?? instead of creating a new Airline. All corruption by the GOP which makes no sense at all. When will these guys in GOP use their brains and stop corruption to benefit their own interest rather than looking after the interest of this Country first.Recommend

  • Adnan
    Feb 5, 2016 - 5:45PM

    This will just not work. It will only lead to violence and could bring down the government.Recommend

  • a&a
    Feb 5, 2016 - 6:39PM

    @Malik Saab:
    Sharif Air line (SIA)Recommend

  • raider
    Feb 5, 2016 - 7:08PM

    @Malik Saab:
    according to your formula, what is minus value of metros, Pakistan railways, steel millRecommend

  • husein
    Feb 5, 2016 - 8:08PM

    Let PIA die it’s death and why should state support a massive loss making in-efficient entity. Please remember PIA shares are quoted on stock exchangeRecommend

  • unbelievable
    Feb 5, 2016 - 10:45PM

    Why not sell the airline with no employees? Sell 100% and let the new owner determine who he wants to hire?Recommend

  • Abdullah khan
    Feb 5, 2016 - 10:55PM

    Imran politics is same like other parties of pakistan claiming Change but doing same politics, ppp have interests because majority of PIA workers were the relatives of ppp waderas or they are jiyals, while imran himself threatening agitating doctors struggling to stop privatisation of government hospitals and using the same law against doctor’s Recommend

  • Faisal bhombal
    Feb 5, 2016 - 11:01PM

    A much better idea is to allow domestic as well as foreign airlines to serve the domestic sectors immediately. Just from the tax on the tickets, more revenue will be generated from day one than PIA ever can. Just saying!Recommend

  • Shakil Ahmed Khan
    Feb 5, 2016 - 11:32PM

    Why new airline when you are trying to privatise PIA as notion is govt cant run airline!

    Look a sinister plan to buy PIA as bankrupt stock with other frontmen or friends in middle east who still can digest PIA. PIA is one of the few airline in the world that has routes that no one has, major one it can fly people from any country to any country without bringing back to its homebase! only 4-5 airlines has this license.

    The other billion dollar each worth of hotels that are owned by PIA Scribe in Paris and Roosevelt in New York(featured in many hollywood films)! All crooks wish to buy these. Recommend

  • Parvez
    Feb 5, 2016 - 11:33PM

    Why is the government wanting to burden the tax payer and the country further….it could not run one airline now it decides to run two…..does that make business sense ?Recommend

  • commonsense
    Feb 6, 2016 - 1:00AM

    Can’t run PIA – what makes you think you can run another?Recommend

  • ShamelessPakistanis
    Feb 6, 2016 - 2:05AM

    Blockquote All process of ticketing, buying and collection, etc., will be outsourced.

    Why? Recommend

  • Ismail Suleman
    Feb 6, 2016 - 2:55AM

    Instead of reviving PIA, they are bent on selling Our national assist to private associations. Establishment of a new airline is a tactic to protect their own corruption, however it is will be managed and adminstrated by their own people,mainly puppets of noora league Recommend

  • syed & syed
    Feb 6, 2016 - 3:10AM

    Protesting PIA workers will loose jobs or face jail say the self proclaimed King of Pakistan. It would have been better to ascertain cause of losses. Search for ghost employees do away with unnecessary staff. Bring down hefty salaries of top management. Alas PM himself and his long list of minsters are superfluous talking a new airline. PIA, PSM Pakistan Railway were running in profit during dictators time. What happened now – answer the ruling class have their assets abroad.Recommend

  • hammad
    Feb 6, 2016 - 6:03AM

    This is just a pressure tecticRecommend

  • Azi
    Feb 6, 2016 - 6:43AM

    So basically same airline with a different name, as if it will change things. Same old inept people on top to suck the new airline dry too. Our people never ever learn.Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Feb 6, 2016 - 12:15PM

    Ofcourse it had to be Airblue (Mr.Shahid Khaqan Abbasi)Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Feb 6, 2016 - 4:40PM

    @adnans hair:
    Or would you rather it be Hooters Air ?!Recommend

  • The sense of non-sense
    Feb 6, 2016 - 5:39PM

    @Amanullah Khan:
    I do agree on the point that PIA is the test case of nerves as well as good governance and management for the Government. However, it is your last sentence that presents the picture clearly and should be thought provoking for readers. “It is in the interest of the Government and country to come to negotiations”. This sure is ironic as a government is elected by the people for the people and now the point has come that government will hold negotiations with its own the people that it has been elected for the very reason to serve and solve the issues that have hampered the progress of the country.Recommend

  • Global depression
    Feb 6, 2016 - 11:04PM

    @Amanullah Khan:
    I do agree on your point that PIA is a test case of nerves as well as good governance and management for the Government. However, it is your last sentence that I think is thought provoking for readers. “It is in the interest of the Government and country to come to negotiations and resolve the issue amicably.” As a government is elected by the people for the people and now it has come to the point that government will hold negotiations with the people it has been elected to serve and solve matters that hamper the progress of the nation. It is quite ironic.Recommend

  • Basharat
    Feb 7, 2016 - 12:11AM

    This is not a very pleasant situation for both sides, be it passendere or employees. Unfortunately this is the only way to à good werking company. Privatise it and let The open market do its work. No government van run à healthy commercial company.
    We have to bite the sour apple.Recommend

  • Sodomite
    Feb 7, 2016 - 2:57AM

    @Adnan:
    Amen. Recommend

  • Nafees
    Feb 7, 2016 - 1:24PM

    Main Sahib should ask Ahsan Iqbal to read. Khazana report on recovery of MAS ( http://www.khazanah.com.my/Media-Downloads/News-Press-Releases/2014/Khazanah-announces-CEO-designate-of-MAS-NewCo-(13) ) and explain it to him in layman’s language. Then appoint a professional to implement the recommendations in PIA. Recommend

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