Great people not to fly with

The national airline, for its part, must understand that it exists to serve its passengers, not its employees.

Editorial October 07, 2011

The main thrust of the case against PIA has been its financial mismanagement. The national airline is widely perceived — correctly as it turns out — to be a white elephant that is hemorrhaging money. But, as a recent investigative series in this paper shows, PIA, and more importantly those who fly it, face far greater dangers. The report reveals that PIA’s aging fleet of aircraft have now become increasingly creaky, with technical issues regularly cropping up, forcing many planes to be grounded. So poorly maintained are many of these planes that the European Union may once again be on the verge of banning the airline’s A-310 planes, something it had done just over a year ago.

Part of the problem is that the system of regulatory oversight is very weak. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which should be ensuring the safety of the airline’s planes, often has officials who have previously worked at PIA, so there is at times a conflict of interest. In any case, both work under the same ministry, and that compromises the independence that the CAA should have, if it wants to be an effective regulator. Hence, no surprise that the authority is a tiger with no teeth — after all when was the last time an investigation report into an air crash in the country was made public? For the CAA to do its job, a law must be passed forbidding current and recent employees of airline companies from working for it. Also, all reports into airline mishaps, minor or serious, should be made public on the authority’s website so that there is transparency.

The national airline, for its part, must understand that it exists to serve its passengers, not its employees. It is poorly managed and inefficiently operated, and this is best reflected in it having one of the highest employees-to-plane ratios in the world. Years of political interference, patronage, nepotism and plain old complacency fostered by years of it being a monopoly have led to a situation where it loses billions every year. For it to have any hope of achieving a financial turnaround, mindsets of those who run it need to change. The airline needs to serve its fare-paying customers not ministers or members of parliament. It needs to raise its service standard, and drastically reduce its employee-plane ration. That is the only way to cutting costs, without which its long-term survival could be at stake.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2011.


Haqqani | 10 years ago | Reply

@ Hamza: how can you relate Emirates with the sad story of PIA?

Faree Imaan | 10 years ago | Reply

Basically, they are making people's mind up that soon PIA will turn into 100 percent private, will no longer hold shares, it would operate like PTCL, else as they are in losses they know what they have done by over hiring and not retiring people by giving extinctions. GOD HELP PAKISTAN.

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