Battling incompetence: Three PIA pilots sacked for holding fake degrees

Published: December 7, 2012
Airline chief tells NA panel a crackdown against bogus degree holders is on cards.

Airline chief tells NA panel a crackdown against bogus degree holders is on cards.


In Pakistan, fake degrees have usually been associated with politicians; several parliamentarians have been sent packing after their educational credentials were proved to be fake. Now, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) seems poised to follow suit.

The national flag carrier recently sacked three pilots for holding fake degrees, despite having lodged thousands of flight hours, PIA chairman Lt Gen (retd) Asif Yasin Malik revealed while briefing National Assembly’s (NA) Special Committee on Delays in Flights and Grounding of Aircraft here on Thursday.

Talking about a fully fledged crackdown on fake degree holders across the airline’s ranks, Malik assured the committee that the job will be undertaken as early as possible. He said, however, PIA will still have to follow appropriate procedures, such as issuing show cause notices first.

“There are issues of corruption and incompetence as well,” he added.

“PIA is a bleeding organisation at this juncture and needs some time for recovery before getting rid of fake degree holders and incompetent and corrupt officials,” the PIA chairman maintained.

Asif Yasin Malik

Hajj operation

While briefing the committee on this year’s Hajj operation, Malik said PIA incurred a loss of Rs0.41 billion. He claimed that while private airlines charged Rs150,000 for Hajj flights, the national flag carrier charged Rs80,000, adding that PIA’s airfare was determined by the Ministry of Religious affairs rather than the airline.

Informing the committee that PIA had already started preparations for next year’s Hajj operation, the PIA chairman maintained they had no issue if the government floated tenders for the operation and handed it over to another airline.


“PIA needs Rs25 billion on an urgent basis to pull out of the current crisis… A summary has been sent to the Economic Coordination Committee,” Malik told the committee.


In response, committee member Shahid Khaqan Abbasi maintained ‘old, fuel guzzling’ aircraft were responsible for PIA’s Rs151 billion debt.

He also asked trade union representatives to do their jobs honestly instead of blaming the management.

At this, the chairman said the airline is already planning to get rid of 12 Airbus A310 and four Boeing 747 aircraft over the next year.

“We are acquiring 11 to 15 new aircraft on lease,” he added, citing Emirates fleet’s example, 42% of which comprises leased aircraft.

Meanwhile, PIA deputy managing director Air Vice Marshal Qasim Masood Khan apprised the committee that 26 out of the airline’s 38 aircraft were currently operational while the rest were grounded for maintenance.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (27)

  • Mirza
    Dec 7, 2012 - 9:49AM

    In Pakistan many thousands of doctors without degrees are practicing or playing with the lives of innocent citizens every day. Many thousands of dentists are pulling people’s teeth our. Many highly paid officials are plundering the country with no or fake degrees. It is not surprising that the pilots are taking chances with the lives of people. The irony is we have started the process with the elected politicians who are supposed to be shady characters by definition but are not worried about these first responders and people who play with our lives every day.


  • ozair mustafa
    Dec 7, 2012 - 10:44AM

    I really dont know what the General can deliver, hope against hope.

    The issue as I see it from outside is the induction of cronies specially by PPP.

    Overstaffing.Low moral because the competent people are not duly rewarded.

    The whole atmosphere is of a governmenet depertment and not of a commercial entity.

    So what has the General got to say about that.

    Or perhaps the good general comming from army may not have seen the commercial organisation operations at all.

    The best way would be for him to have professional management and lead them and back them


  • Was a Pakistani
    Dec 7, 2012 - 10:47AM

    Incorrect info… Emirates total fleet barring two or three aircraft are all leased


  • Maher
    Dec 7, 2012 - 11:05AM

    Mashallah PIA, God Forbid if next time I travel from PIA, I will ask Pilot, Co pilot & Air Cabin crew to provide attested copies of their degrees from HEC/ University.


  • Riaz
    Dec 7, 2012 - 11:18AM

    For all technical skills you don’t need to waste your time in collage and universities. Go Technical. If he is flying well promote him annually. Dregree is nothing more than a key, receipt or a piece of paper. Thomas Edision, Nikola Tessla, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Michel Dell all Top Executive and technical guys do not have degrees. So do not raise this as a major issue. See if he flying well go ahead!


  • Toba Alu
    Dec 7, 2012 - 11:21AM

    This is one’s worst nightmare. Pilots with fake degrees. Second worst nightmare is Ministers of Religious affairs setting airfares. Usually Ministers of Religious Affairs only run people into the ground now they run businesses also into the ground. Running people into the ground does not require proof in Pakistan because Pakistan consists of only true believers (Land of the Pure). Businesses run into the ground only need proper books to verify (Land of Pure Nonsense).


  • Irtiza
    Dec 7, 2012 - 11:31AM

    Is it fair to have Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on ECC while he is running PIA’s competitior AirBlue?


  • farhan
    Dec 7, 2012 - 11:32AM

    oh God….. now who is next in line of fake degree holders…..?


  • Saad
    Dec 7, 2012 - 11:38AM

    I am never travelling on PIA again!


  • The Khan
    Dec 7, 2012 - 11:39AM

    Is flying that easy


  • Karim Azizi
    Dec 7, 2012 - 11:39AM

    Let me explain to you all what this statement right here means:

    “PIA is a bleeding organisation at this juncture and needs some time for recovery before getting rid of fake degree holders and incompetent and corrupt officials,” the PIA chairman maintained.

    This means that the Lt. sahab will wait to see which of the ‘fake degree’ holder pilot will pay him off. Whoever fails to do so will be served a “show cause notice.” Upon being summoned, the pilot will be asked to reconsider his decision. He will then go home and be convinced that negotiating a bribe is better than losing a job. The Lt. sahab will then agree to some payment as he will realize that this could be added to his BMW 7 Series piggybank. And so, with all that set the pilot will stay a part of PIA. The delays and ‘technical faults’ will go on. So will the incompetent pilots who fly these planes. Welcome to our nation! It’s a pity that from being the firm that trained all the middle eastern airlines PIA has gone down to be as bad as the railway. Are we still going to blame this on CIA and RAW? OR will people finally realize that it is the greed of the elite few that is killing us all. Time to vote for ‘positive’ change so we can adopt the path that countries like Turkey did. Otherwise all those who wished to move to Somalia won’t have to move…


  • Dec 7, 2012 - 11:48AM

    Pilot is pilot whether genuine or fake.
    Difficult to use PIA after this news.


  • Ahsan Mansoor
    Dec 7, 2012 - 11:57AM

    Hajj season is the most profitable time for Airlines and posting a loss during hajj flights just shows the incompetency of those running its affairs and handling its finance department!

    PIA is literally being sabotaged by unions having political backing where their elected members often enjoy lucrative funding and they don’t even have to work because they are too busy running affairs of unions of course for the benefit of PIA employees (This is not what any union head is supposed to do !)

    And regarding Fake degree pilots
    Here are few of my concerns:

    Will they be retired? …. With benefits of course !
    Will PIA take legal action against them?



  • AR Khan
    Dec 7, 2012 - 12:43PM

    Nothing will happen, a win win deal will be reached between them and everything will be normal. The most important religious event of muslims is Haj and all airlines have made it a profit making business and they call themselves muslims, what a pity.


  • Parvez
    Dec 7, 2012 - 1:33PM

    Petty issues like this are intentionally given publicity by PIA top management in order to avoid addressing the core issues which highlight their lack of will and helplessness.


  • meekal a ahmed
    Dec 7, 2012 - 2:09PM

    Fake academic degrees or fake flying degrees? The report does not say. Next door pilots were caught for faking their flight hours.Recommend

  • MoniShaikh
    Dec 7, 2012 - 2:43PM

    hajj operation Rs.0.41 billion is the loss incurred by PIA during the 2012 HAjj operation according to the airline’s chairman

    Their is nothing wrong with providing subsidies to the pilgrims. The loses PIA incurs is for mismanagement and corruption.They do not bother to talk about the type of service they provide to the pilgrims. How they have to wait on KSA airports without any facilities. Fights getting delayed, behavior of the staff and on top of it, you cannot use airline other than PIA or saudi airlines for Hajj.
    Government must facilitate Hajjies instead of charging exorbitant prices from them against pathetic service level.
    What a pity… instead of highlighting real issues within the system, Hajj operations are being highlighted. Hajj operations last for maximum 3 months, what about the other 9 months?


  • Vaqar - UK
    Dec 7, 2012 - 2:46PM

    Here is my two cents worth of input.

    Yes their degrees were fake, but these were not degrees qulifying them to fly. The important thing to know is were their Pilots licences valid with enough hours when they joined PIA? Of course, they had someone’s backing as sadly that is the case to join any state owned organisation currently. But having invested millions in their training is firing them the right way to go? Have they been safe flyers passing all checks?

    Disciplinary action, such as demotig them a grade and making it mandatory to get a degree in the next couple of years would have been a better option for the cash strapped airline.


  • Much Amused
    Dec 7, 2012 - 3:09PM

    The three probably belonged to the wrong party.


  • A. Khan
    Dec 7, 2012 - 3:56PM

    Good point… Only in Pakistan can such a conflict of interest happen. Don’t forget that Shahid Khaqan started his airline shortly after his stint as chairman PIA. Rumour has it that he got a feasibility commissioned for a startup airline in Pakistan, while PIA chairman. That is bad enough but I certainly hope the consultants weren’t paid from PIA funds, which would certainly add insult to injury.


  • A. Khan
    Dec 7, 2012 - 4:02PM

    Although a serious issue, PIA has its very survival at stake. Also, why only the pilots? Why not people in HR who get paid to vet new applicants ? This is their job and they neglected to confirm that these pilot’s degrees. So who approved vetted and approved their applications ? Were they sifarshi ?


  • abs
    Dec 7, 2012 - 6:02PM

    Not only these pilots but those recruited them must be punished and that too under severe charges of attempt to kill so many pple and putting so many lives on stake :(


  • Jadugar
    Dec 7, 2012 - 6:39PM

    If theses pilots were qualified then the company should have shown some consideration, perhaps demoting would have been a better option, in my view, looking trained people is usually hard to replace them unless the CEO has plans for hush friends and acquaintances. Just how many of his Army buddies really have true qualification. I wonder?


  • Uza Syed
    Dec 7, 2012 - 7:07PM

    A pilots competence is and should be judged by his training and acquired skills to fly an equiptment rather than an academic degree. What do I do with an ‘Airline Piot’ with excellent and genuine degrees but poorly trained and inept in the tasks required for safe flying if the man goofs up while I’m on board. I’d rather have a good pilot with a fake degree at the helms than a bad one with a genuine degree.


  • Saleem
    Dec 7, 2012 - 8:01PM

    The whole government needs to be sacked alongwith the army/isi top brass. Incompetent and corrupt the whole lot.


  • fishaan
    Dec 8, 2012 - 4:48AM

    Dont go on the news ,look behind the scene ????
    these all staffers are kids of top bureaucrats and were really in schools at the time of their education in 60,70 or 80s so how did not get an average education (intermediate). 2nd it is not an easy job (a simple driver) to become a flight crew especially if some one is operating vip flights,all the special agencies are behind him for the security & safety checks etc.
    How did these pilots entered in PIA, passed the entrance tests, Clear the professional CAA exams , initial and on job training , learned & got licences to flown different air-crafts, Compete the ICAO & FAA certifications.
    No body noticed ????


  • fishaan
    Dec 8, 2012 - 6:07AM

    THIS IS MALALA episode 2 ( divert people from real problems)


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