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Unhappy PIA pilots

The Pakistan Airlines (PIA) may suffer losses if the Pakistan Airlines Pilot Association (Palpa) goes ahead with its planned strike next month. The discord stems from the state of affairs in the wake of pilots’ transfers from Karachi to Islamabad and other cities in Punjab. Palpa sees the moves as a conspiracy to relocate PIA head office from Karachi to Islamabad, while the PIA management says it is part of PIA’s new business plan. If transfers are not revoked, Palpa plans to delays flights, leading to many cancellations – both domestic and international. If Palpa and the management do not reach an agreement, this will be a setback to the national airline, which was just coming out of operational losses thanks to robust measures undertaken by the management. The other point driving a wedge between pilots and the PIA management, led by Air Marshal Arshad Malik, is the reported violations of passengers’ safety guidelines. Palpa accuses the management of overlooking their repeated reminders regarding “continuous violation of its own flight operation manual as well as of local and international safety guidelines that put both aircraft’s and passengers’ safety at risk.” If Palpa’s stance is factual, it is criminal on part of the PIA management to put passengers’ lives at risk. A high level probe should be initiated into the allegations.
Palpa plans to resort to adopt go-slow and ‘work by the book’ procedures once the Haj operation is over on September 14. A spokesperson for PIA says they never compromise on working conditions for pilots and always follow local and international civil aviation safety rules. The national flag carrier witnessed turnaround because of its five-year strategic business plan and some short-term measures. Thanks to such measures, the airline overcame its operational losses last April.
The CEO needs a team of dedicated experts for top posts who should be given autonomy to run their operations. In days to come, unproductive employees should find no place in offices, while the government will have to show a strong will to stand by the management as often the PIA union resists layoffs. True, the government can post the relieved workers in some other ventures. Right people at the right place can make a successful PIA take off.



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