PIA employees strike enters fourth day

An employee strike at Pakistan International Airline (PIA), now in its fourth day, stranded thousands of passengers and grounded nearly three dozen domestic and international flights on Friday.

A group of pilots and support staff for PIA launched the strike because they are unhappy about a proposed route-sharing deal with Turkish Airlines.

PIA spokesman Mashhood Tajwar said 33 flights were canceled. No PIA planes were flying to or from the capital, Islamabad, while the schedule in the southern city of Karachi has been disrupted.

Earlier, employees’ association leader Suhail Baluch met with federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Thursday to resolve the situation, but emerged to say the strike would continue. However, he added, it was a voluntary strike and his group would not keep any employee from working if they wanted to.

“I hope we will resolve all the issues soon,” Malik told reporters afterward.

PIA has posted multimillion dollar losses for years because of bad management and competition from Gulf airlines, and the latest strike is sure to further impact its bottom line.

Government subsidies to the airline and other state-run enterprises eat up a big chunk of the budget at a time of economic struggles.