PML-N govt hired 1,000 workers in overstaffed PIA

Dar again fails to convince opposition on privatisation of national carrier

Shahbaz Rana January 11, 2016


While harping on about overstaffing at the national flag carrier, the government has quietly recruited another 1,000 people in Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), taking its accumulative losses to Rs254.7 billion.

Last year alone, the PML-N government inducted 400 employees in PIA, according to a briefing given to the National Assembly’s special committee on PIA privatisation. The PIA management and the Privatisation Commission told the panel the national airline added Rs27.8 billion to its losses last year.

Seeking a strategic investor for PIA

The government has repeatedly blamed the previous regime for overstaffing the PIA. But the addition of 1,000 employees in its tenure puts the ruling party in league with the Pakistan Peoples Party, which recruited 1,435 people in the airlines in its last three years. The PPP, however, never hid its intentions of giving jobs to its voters.

During the tenures of both governments, the overall number of PIA employees has come down from 18,036 in 2008 to 14,847 by the end of 2015. Had the PML-N not given 1,000 more jobs, the number would have gone down below 14,000.

In its tenure, the PML-N has on average hired 1.1 employees per day as against the PPP’s average of 1.3 per day during its last three years between 2010 and 2012.

The government has given these jobs at a time when it has committed with the International Monetary Fund of selling off the national flag carrier by June this year – a deadline it is more likely to miss.

PML-N government paves way for PIA privatisation

On Monday, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar again tried to sell to the special committee the idea of selling the core business of PIA, which the PPP, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Awami Muslim League (AML) opposed.

Another startling fact that surfaced in the meeting was that PIA’s market share drastically went down as the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) granted landing rights to other airlines.

This led to a situation where despite 43% reduction in fuel costs and adding 20 new aircraft, the PIA suffered Rs27.8 billion losses during 2015, data shared by the PIA’s chief finance officer (CFO) showed.

The PIA’s market share going down drastically was termed a deliberate attempt by the opposition to destroy the PIA before its privatisation, as the PML-N government allowed additional 286 weekly flights to other airlines since coming to power.

In the past one year alone, the CAA has allowed 108 additional weekly flights, which is disturbing, said Asad Umar of the PTI. “The CAA is selling the national interests and I am not sure whether it is incompetency or someone is making money,” he added.

Middle Eastern carriers ruining PIA: Babar

AML’s Sheikh Rasheed alleged a company owned by the PM’s adviser on aviation, Shujaat Azeem, was providing catering service to 27 airlines. He suspected his role in giving away PIA’s market share.

PIA Board Chairman Naseer Jafar claimed the impact of the addition of new aircraft on revenues would be visible next year. “No one can turn around the airlines in just one year.”

Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2016.


Pakhtun | 8 years ago | Reply Nawaz and Zardari are two faces of same coin
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