Unions threaten to protest against PIA privatisation

Will approach court to prevent stake sale to private investors.

Our Correspondent July 19, 2013
In July, the govt approved Rs7 billion bailout package for PIA, to prevent the airline from defaulting. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: The unions of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) have threatened to protest against a plan to hand over management control of the troubled national flag carrier to private investors along with a minority stake.

In a statement on Friday, the Joint Action Committee of Pakistan International Airlines Employees, which claims to represent all the unions including the CBA, alleged that vested interests were after PIA-owned Roosevelt Hotel in New York instead of fixing it.

“The Joint Action Committee will ask the Supreme Court to take notice of the conspiracy and intervene to end ‘ad hocism’ further strengthened by creating the aviation division,” the statement said.

The reaction comes following reports that the PIA management has proposed selling 25-30% stake in the airline to investors along with management control.

For this to happen, the management has asked the government to inject Rs16 billion into the ailing carrier, which carries accumulated losses of over Rs120 billion.

The committee called the plan half-baked and flawed, saying no details have been shared with the employees. The unions also criticised the creation of the new aviation division.

It said there was no clear-cut policy as the privatisation proposal surfaced weeks before planned appointment of a new management, which should have the chance to put things right.

Blaming past top managements for the current state of the airline, the committee even called for handing over the day-to-day affairs to the employees.

More than once the statement mentioned the unions’ protests in 2011 which followed a proposed PIA code-share agreement with Turkish Airlines and led to dismissal of then managing director Aijaz Haroon.

Those were the days when major airports across the country were occupied by PIA employees and hundreds of flights were suspended.

During the protests to force out Haroon, the unions
had promised to revive the airline in six months. But that never happened.

Pakistan Airline Pilots’ Asso­ciation (Palpa), which was at the forefront of this protest drive, was able to get a better working agreement and other employees also received salary raise.

The PIA spokesperson was not available for comment.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2013.

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Arsalan | 10 years ago | Reply

@A Pakistani: What about Pak Army. I think it is established that they are the worst performers in all sense. Should we also sell them to private firms ?

Firdos Shah | 10 years ago | Reply

How is this govt serious about turning around PIA? It has appointed Shujat Azim as the all-powerful advisor who is calling the shots in PIA. This guy was a Flt Lt in PAF and was thrown out of PAF on disciplinary grounds. He than became a personal pilot of the brother of Lebanese PM. When Nawaz Sharif ran away to Saudi Arabia, he was piloting his plane. With Nawaz Sharif's blessings he also owns a company named Royal Airport Services which provides ground handling to PIA at various domestic airports. This company is a defaulter of PIA and owes millions to PIA but no one in PIA can dare to recover a penny. Now this guy who has no credentials to turn around a major airline is expected to deliver. Who are you fooling Mr Sharif? Now the plans are afoot to sell for pennies to the likes of Mian Mansha as has already been done in the case of MCB. This time on the pretext of saving national exchequer money, PIA is up for grabs at the cost of the nation!

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