PESHAWAR: The Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat has summoned Adviser to the Prime Minister on Aviation Mehtab Ahmad Khan to explain why the national flag carrier, the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), is not performing well.
The notice was served during a meeting of the committee held in Peshawar on Tuesday. The committee also sought secretary aviation’s reply for failing to attend the meeting.
The committee members and the representatives of the PIA and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) were present in the meeting which also discussed different issues including the PIA’s dismal condition, its privatisation, outsourcing of the airports and upgrading their facilities.
A member of the committee said federal minister Danyal Aziz was talking about privatisation of the PIA, but the airline is in so much debt that no one will be ready to own it even for free.
He said the government should have to take burden the debt before the PIA’s privatization. “If the parliament has decided not to sell the national flag carrier then why Aziz is issuing dates for its selloff,” he asked.
The chairman said the incumbent government is not in the position to outsource the PIA right now since no decision has been taken in this regard; however, the next government might do this. “It does not seem to happen [during the PML-N government’s] tenure,” he said.
The PIA Chief Executive Office (CEO) Dr Musharraf Rasool said some issues were out of their domain. However, the airlines’ profit and loss are being monitored on daily basis, adding that the sales have increased up to 20% monthly.
He said the PIA former CEO Bernd Hildebrand was on exit control list (ECL). However, he was later allowed to leave the country when Ministry of Foreign Affairs allowed him onetime permission.
When asked about repeated cases of drugs being smuggled through the PIA planes, Rasool replied it was not the PIA staff that smuggled drugs. “The PIA is a commercial entity and it is responsibility of the Anti-Narcotics Force and other relevant agencies to counter such attempts,” he added.
The PIA Chief Commercial Officer Bilal Shaikh said the annual loss of the PIA had gradually dropped from Rs32billion in 2016 to Rs26billion in 2017, adding that their target is to drop the loss to Rs18billion in 2018. The chair asked Shaikh to submit sales report for last three months.
The CAA official informed the committee that Karachi operated the highest number of flights where some 6.5million people travelled annually followed by 5.1million from Islamabad, 4.9million from Lahore, 1.8million from Multan and 1.5million from Peshawar. The number from Peshawar is likely to touch the figure of 5million after expansion work is completed by May 2018.
The chairman was told that new Islamabad international airport, likely to be inaugurated this month, is being outsourced in order to provide better services. The chair, however, questioned why the airports were being outsourced as the facilities generated Rs70billion annually and once the new Islamabad airport becomes functional, the amount will raise to Rs100billion.
Obaid Abbasi, while representing the Bacha Khan International Airport (BKIA), informed the meeting that 11 international and two domestic flights operated from the facility on daily basis, adding that expansion work is under way and will be completed by the next month.
The chairman also informed media persons that investigation report on Chitral passenger plane crash will be available by August this year.