Strike multiplies miseries of PIA passengers

The flight operations of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) remained disrupted for the second day on Wednesday after employees of the national flag carrier went on a strike, refusing to perform on-board duties and blocking entrance to major airports.

Both national and international flight schedules were badly affected by the strike, multiplying the miseries of the travelers who were stranded on the airports.

Hundreds of PIA employees staged a sit-in at the airports in Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar. Flight operations in Islamabad were also affected.

A private news channel reported that the latest setback for the PIA came at a time when the airline is trying to bolster revenues through a code-share agreement with the Turkish Airlines – a move bitterly opposed by the Council of Employees of PIA (CEPIA), a confederation representing six different unions.

Protests were prompted after PIA sacked eight pilots earlier in the week. “It was a decision of the management. We have every right to lay off people who are not performing their jobs,” said Managing Director, Aijaz Haroon.

Meanwhile, PIA Spokesman said the flight operation in Karachi has improved but with a delay.

He said on Wednesday the flights from Karachi to Sukkur, Moenjadaro, Sialkot, Islamabad and Gilgit were delayed. However, the flight from Karachi to Lahore (PK 302) operated on scheduled time.

The Spokesman said on Tuesday, overall a total of 25 PIA flights were affected and these included international as well as domestic flights.

Of these eight flights including the international ones, were canceled while the remaining ones were delayed and the delay was termed as consequential.

The PIA spokesman reiterated that no agreement or memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between the national carrier and the Turkish Airline and only discussions to this effect took place. Therefore, there was no cause for any apprehension.

He also described the strike as `illegal’ and said that it is causing a great deal of inconvenience to the passengers and also affecting the image of the PIA.

While Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (PALPA) has said that it was ready for negotiations and would continue struggle for the rights of its members.