ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) announced on Tuesday it had prepared a plan ‘B’ to deal with protesting pilots of the national flag carrier, under which pilots of Pakistan Navy will be hired on contractual basis to run the flight operations.
Chairman PIA Nasir Jaffar in a press conference said the Pakistan Navy’s ATRs would be hired, who would remain on standby in case any pilot falls sick at the eleventh hour.
"If the protest continues, the management will look into hiring new pilots on contract," he said, implying the protesters could lose their jobs.
Seven more flights of the state-owned airline were canceled as a result of ongoing ‘go-slow’ policy of protesting pilots during the past 24 hours.
Read: Pilots’ strike: PIA rejects PALPA demands
Accumulating number of flights that could not take off during the past six days of protest has crossed 70 now, according to PIA spokesperson.
PIA officials claim Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who intervened to end deadlock, asked the administration to only look into ‘genuine’ demands of pilots but take a ‘clear stance’ against any illegitimate demand.
“The prime minister’s directives are clear. He has directed management to look into such just demands, if the protesting pilots have any. But take action against those who violate the service contract,” a PIA official claimed.
A stalemate continues between management and representatives of Pakistan Air Line Pilot Association (PALPA)-the union of more than 400 pilots of national airlines that currently has fleet of less than 40 aircrafts.
This is at a time when the state-owned carrier is conducting crucial post-hajj operations of bringing back pilgrims from Saudi Arabia, besides running its regular operations.
On October 5, PIA management had rejected demands put forward by the Palpa to end their strike.
The demands include the immediate replacement of director flight operations, withdrawal of show-cause notices and inquiries against pilots (while reinstating all grounded pilots), and for seniority to be determined by the pilots.
Meanwhile, the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) took notice of many-fold increase in the fares of private airlines during the ongoing tussle between PIA management and Palpa.
“Section 3 of the Competition Act prohibits unreasonable increase in the prices of goods and services while Section 4 of the Act prohibits undertakings from colluding on price. Through the inquiry, the CCP will investigate the possible abuse of dominant position or collusion among the private airlines to raise air fares, therefore adding burden on the consumers,” it said in a press statement.
In case the airlines failed to comply with the special order, the commission will further proceed in accordance with law against the CEOs, the statement added.
CAA forms medical board to examine pilots on sick leave
Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) constituted on Tuesday a medical board to examine the 21 pilots and co-pilots who had applied for a sick leave.
The medical board will examine how these 21 individuals could fall ill at the same time, and immediately after Palpa announced its ‘go slow’ policy that resulted in flight delays inflecting losses to the national flag carrier and causing inconvenience to the passengers.
The pilots have been asked to report to the medical board on three different dates in a manner that will not affect the flights schedule.