KARACHI: The Senate Sub-committee on Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is expected to review the country’s open skies policy for the commercial aviation industry and suggest amendments, if necessary, in a bid to revive the loss-making national flag carrier.
The policy, adopted in the early 1990s, allows foreign airlines, particularly those from the Middle East, to make multiple flights to and from many cities in Pakistan. The free market is said to be causing a considerable loss to the state-owned airline.
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“We may review the open skies policy, if we find it necessary,” said Senator Lieutenant General (Retired) Abdul Qayyum, who was one of the three members of the special sub-committee.
He was speaking at a press conference at the PIA head office on Thursday after the committee held meetings with several officials, office-bearers of the CBA, two former managing directors and two former chairmen of PIA on Wednesday and Thursday.
The purpose of the meetings was to find out the causes behind the loss being suffered by the national airline.
The committee, constituted on December 16 last year, will submit its report carrying recommendations on February 16 for restoring the lost glory of PIA.
Qayyum added that PIA was badly lacking professionalism and right people should be given the task to run the airline, who may be able to revive it.
Responding to a question, he said PIA privatisation did not fell within their domain, adding they were trying to get the airline stand on its own feet.
He noted that the threat of terrorists had been one of the factors keeping the airline in the red. “Law and order, however, has improved in the country,” he said.
At present, accumulated losses of PIA stand at Rs300 billion. The cash-strapped airline reported in October 2016 that its accumulated losses had increased by 2.3% to Rs267.56 billion in the quarter ended March 2016.
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In calendar year 2015, the losses had gone up by Rs32.13 billion.
Speaking at the press conference, Sub-committee Convener Senator Muzaffar Hussain Shah said the panel was still investigating the reasons for the losses and inviting recommendations for PIA’s revival.
“If we find it necessary, we will hold meetings with officials of the Civil Aviation Authority in Islamabad,” he said.
Senator Farhatullah Babar said almost all the governments, and not a single administration, were responsible for the chronic financial crisis afflicting PIA.
He stressed the need for breaking the status quo and noted that if the situation remained unchanged it would put survival of the airline at stake. Senator Shah asked PIA’s CBA President Shamim Akmal to submit his recommendations for the rehabilitation of the air carrier.
The committee also met PIA Retired Employees Association President Syed Tahir Hassan and Secretary General Mohammad Younus Kakakhel.
Akmal believed that the outsourcing of PIA’s kitchen and transport departments were among the reasons behind the growing losses.
Committee members visited a number of departments at the PIA headquarters, including kitchen, engineering, Boeing 777 simulator and the technical ground staff.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2017.
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