The National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence has asked the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to identify the ‘culprits’ responsible for the financial losses suffered by the national flag carrier, which stand at Rs140 billion.
The committee also directed PIA to hold accountable those responsible for the mismanagement that results in delay and cancellation of scheduled flights.
“Strict action must be taken against those behind the conspiracy to destroy the national airline,” the parliamentary panel stated.
The meeting of the standing committee, with Abdul Ghani Talpur in the chair, was held to discuss the overall performance of PIA and its financial losses, as well as the problems faced by Hajj pilgrims this year.
Expressing concern over increasing incidents of emergency landings, the committee inquired about the maintenance plan of aircrafts; however, PIA officials failed to offer a satisfactory response.
The parliamentarians were of the view that some elements within the organisation were hatching conspiracies to destroy the national flag carrier to serve their own interests.
“The negligence of the officials is putting the lives of passengers at risk,” the committee said.
The committee was also surprised to know that PIA has a strength of more than 350 employees against one aircraft, while international standards call for a staff of 150 employees.
“Why is the management recruiting new employees when it is already overstaffed?” the committee inquired.
The committee was informed that the accumulative loss of PIA was Rs140 billion. It was also told that PIA will acquire new aircraft in March-April 2012.
The committee directed Managing Director PIA Captain Nadeem Yousufzai to submit a report on the exorbitant aircraft, staff ratio, details of strategic alliance made for spare parts, the rationale of outsourcing PIA non-core operations and the reason for frequent failure of maintenance compliance for the Europe sector.
Yousufzai told the committee that this year, Hajj pilgrims were treated like ‘international passengers’, adding that the waiting time at airports for passengers travelling to Saudi Arabia was reduced to six hours.
“There are 14 boarding lounges for Hajj pilgrims at the Jeddah airport, and 78 airlines operate from there. PIA was the only one to get one boarding lounge reserved [exclusively] for the pilgrims,” he said.
During the meeting, the managing director also apologised for his remarks that Hajj pilgrims should be “thankful for travelling in aircraft, rather than on camels”.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2011.