Pilots threaten strike if new taxes not revised downwards

Published: June 17, 2014
PIA pilots have always contested that flying allowance should be treated in a special way as a ‘risk allowance.’ PHOTO: FILE

PIA pilots have always contested that flying allowance should be treated in a special way as a ‘risk allowance.’ PHOTO: FILE


Pilots of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Monday threatened to go on a strike and suspend operations of the financially crippled national flag carrier if taxes on their salaries are not revised downwards immediately.

The threat comes just days after the government proposed a change in the income tax regime on the flying allowance of the pilots, meeting their expectations of addressing a long pending issue.

Yet the pilots under the leadership of Pakistan Air Line Pilots Association (Palpa) Captain Amir Hashmi think otherwise.

“Pilots working for PIA have announced unanimously that they will stop flying if the airline’s management continues to implement ‘unfair and unjust’ taxation policy on their salaries,” Palpa said in a statement.

PIA pilots claim they pay much more in taxes than their counterparts in private Pakistani airlines.

“I can only stop the movement to a certain extent but by the looks of things it has gone too far now,” the statement quoted Hashmi as saying.

“We need a fair solution to the matter immediately by either returning over taxed money or charging the same from private airlines’ pilots.”

In the Budget 2014-15, government imposed a 7.5% tax on the flying allowance that exceeds the basic salaries of pilots. The government says this is actually a relief.

The previous budget had included the flying allowance with all the other components of the salary and taxed it as per the applicable income tax slabs. Before that the flying allowance, which makes up major chunk of pilot’s salaries, was taxed at 2.5%.

PIA pilots, who constitute the most powerful union in the airline, have always contested that flying allowance should be treated in a way special way as a ‘risk allowance.’

Many times Palpa has even likened the allowance with the salaries paid to Pakistani soldiers stationed at Siachen Glacier considering the danger involved with the job.

Interestingly, in the entire statement, PIA pilots kept on lashing at the management, which has nothing to do with taxes – the contribution every citizen has to make to run the country.

“Pilots are trying to pressurise the government and that’s all,” said a senior PIA official. “They want the airline to bear part of the taxes.” That would basically mean more losses for the airline that will have to be paid from the national kitty.

Palpa said despite the airline’s poor health, the management has hired two additional general managers. The association also went on to accuse the management of wrongdoing for hiring aircraft on wet lease, which were recently returned.

A PIA spokesman said that the management was in negotiations with the pilots and it will give an appropriate answer later.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • H.A. Khan
    Jun 17, 2014 - 6:31AM

    Great. This will lead to closure of PIA which in turn will save country loads of resources to fund this loss making,inefficient State Enterprise
    Please go on strike PIA Pilots


  • Saleem
    Jun 17, 2014 - 7:41AM

    Employees of this bankrupt airline should be cautious as their actions may fold this airline and all of them be unemployed. To cut further losses it may be wise to take on pilot’s threat and if that relsults in closure of this airline then so be it.


  • A. Khan
    Jun 17, 2014 - 7:56AM

    Fire the lot of them and shut the airline down. That will allow to management time to really restructure the airline. We don’t need this lot of drunkards, who all conduct side businesses by bringing stuff including booze in from overseas and selling at local shops. They have been doing this for decades and in connivance with customs officials, I might add.


  • Ali
    Jun 17, 2014 - 10:09AM

    If this taxation policy is true, it is ridiculous and unfair. Maybe not flying is not the solution but the management needs to put things into perspectives. No pilots would mean no airline.


  • Cobra Commander
    Jun 17, 2014 - 10:43AM

    No one wants to pay taxes in Pakistan but everyone wants 24 electricity, good road network, gas etc etc Everyone goes on a strike if the government asks them to pay tax. These PIA pilots with their bloated salaries are a drag on the government resources. They get free tickets and upgrades for themselves and their families to fly on PIA. I had an acquaintance whose father was a PIA pilot and that guy flew almost once a month to Pakistan, from USA, free of cost while we paid 1000s of dollars to go to Pakistan once a year. Shameful behavior by these pilots.


  • SGN
    Jun 17, 2014 - 11:01AM

    @Ali, how is closing a tax loophole unfair? “Flying allowance” is income and should be treated as such.


  • Sonya
    Jun 17, 2014 - 11:22AM

    What about Doctors income, private hospitals, lawyers income etc… when go un-taxed.


  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam (retd)
    Jun 17, 2014 - 11:27AM

    These pampered Son In Laws must be shown the way out. Leading a luxurious life as compared to Millions. Enough is not enough for them. Privatize PIA then they will know their worth. The Govt will get rid of footing their Current & Pension Bills. A White Elephant. How long will the Taxpayers money be squandered on them.Recommend

  • Moiz Omar
    Jun 17, 2014 - 12:26PM

    People should pay a fair percentage of taxes based on their income. If everyone did this we would have no financial problems in Pakistan. My father pays more taxes yearly than some of his superiors who get a larger salary than him. Is this fair?


  • Kumail Zaidi
    Jun 17, 2014 - 1:29PM

    It is so sad to read that they are comparing their allowance with the hardship allowance of soldiers on Siachen Glacier. Are they out of their mind? Is it even comparable.Recommend

  • bash gul
    Jun 17, 2014 - 1:52PM

    Let the pilots go on strike, it will a relief for the nation. When the air traffic controllers in the US went on strike, President Reagan sacked them all and replaced them will air force officers. First sack the whole management, then the pilots, then hire people from abroad.


  • Bru ha ha
    Jun 17, 2014 - 2:32PM

    Fire the blackmailers !


  • amansoor
    Jun 17, 2014 - 10:46PM

    @ Lt Col Imtiaz Alam (retd)

    what about the Flats/SD/Brig Houses u got from army when u ppl get retired. and during sevice u ppl got a full time batman and concessional service cards for shopping from CSD and jeep from army. is this justifies ur comment?


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