PALPA throws its weight behind revival of national flag carrier

*18 directors, 40-45 general managers, 200 managers and their deputies are running an airline operating international and domestic flights with merely 15-17 aircraft

KARACHI: In light of one year extension to government by International Monetary Fund (IMF) for privatisation of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), a last-ditch effort to revive national flag carrier was being underway with the gradual induction of new generation highly fuel efficient airplanes having capacity to generate revenues at faster pace containing colossal losses of bleeding national flag carrier.
In an interview with the Daily Times, Pakistan Airline Pilots’ Association (PALPA) President Captain Amir Hashmi laid out a plan for the PIA, which he believed could aid the revival of the national carrier.
Of course, the huge losses of Rs 267 billion cannot be compensated for during an unimaginable time period of twelve months but according to Hashmi, effective restructuring of national airline through its financial management, administrative excellence and optimal engagement of human resource could make a difference in shortest timeframe, which could put the airline on track of continual progress and prosperity.
Hashmi is highly optimistic about the revival of the national flag carrier, provided there is professional excellence, merit culture, organisational efficiency.
PIA was once one of leading airlines in the world. It created different giant airlines of the Gulf and different countries. So, why can’t it stand on its own feet once again, he said. “The privatisation is not the solution in anyway but it is a way to escape from a mission which is achievable.”
The sell-off 26 percent shares of PIA does not seem transparent and smooth at present therefore there are lots of concerns and doubts on the whole process, he added. But the privatisation is not a cup of tea for the whole organisation, if the Company is deemed to get converted to profit-making entity.
Not every organisation is profitable in the country like the Army. So should we privatise this institute, he questioned. PIA is an organisation with national importance. It is used for strategic and defense purposes, which could not be carried out by a private carrier.
Being chief of an influential union, Hashmi gave his advices with regard to restructuring and revamping of the national flag carrier in light with his rich flying experience of 28 years at PIA.
The chief executive officer of the PIA should be a businessman with a vision, plan and strategy to run an organisation at par with professional excellence. He should be autonomous to take bold decision keeping in view the interest of airlines and its business. He should be bold and free from any external and internal pressure, which is acceptable to everyone from employee of the airline to the government as well, he said. The top official should be man of integrity but he should ensure the compliance of rules and regulations at the Airlines on priority in order to make the Airlines functionally well.
PIA management should consist of highly professional and dedicated employees who must be well-versed in the business of aviation implementing the policies to the grass root level effectively. “But unfortunately, it is not the case at present as majority of them do not have any background of aviation with no proper training and insight.”
Currently, there are 18 directors, 40-45 general managers and 200 managers and their deputies for running an airline which is operating international and domestic flights with merely 15-17 aircrafts.
He pinpointed the mismanagement at the Airline as barely two commercial flights have been carried out with the newly inducted aircraft of A320 since its arrival on June 28. However it is resting idle, making continuous losses of the Airline as it was rented on dry lease against $250,000 per month.
“It happened because the management has not trained pilots for the newly inducted aircraft despite arrival of A320. The plan was already delayed for more than two and half months. In this period, an ample number of captains could have been trained who could have operated maximum number of daily flights to utilize the aircraft optimally,” he said.
Now what the management did was grossly incomprehensible for us. It grounded a series B737 aircrafts with no reason and their pilots as well. Besides, the pilots of A310 were stopped from flying in order to train them for A320 aircraft. Hence 42 pilots neither operated their previous aircraft nor the newly inducted or upcoming.
“On the top of it, no fleet planning has been done by the management strangely when it was asked to provide them for the accommodation of pilots at available aircrafts. It shows the lack of professionalism and competence of the management which does not know about the Company’s rules of business,” PALPA president added. It happened because the professionals were hired on political influence in the organisation. There are more than 18,000 employees for 17 aircrafts but we do not want to retrench them, rather we advise to use them for productive activities at the organisation. 

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