PIA struggles to limp back to Normalcy

WEB DESK: Passengers stuck at different airports due to protests by employees of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) finally heaved a great sigh of relief as some flights departed from and landed at Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA) on Sunday after five days of stalled operations at all major international airports in the country.

According to data on official website of BBIA, flights PK 4232 and PK 605 departed for Abu Dhabi and Gilgit from BBIA yesterday morning, while PK 4231 and PK 606 arrived at Islamabad airport from Abu Dhabi and Gilgit, respectively, and Jeddah-Islamabad flight PK 7330 landed at BBIA around 2:37pm.

A PIA spokesman said that PIA flights have been restored, albeit partially, adding the management was optimistic the number of flights would certainly raise in the next few days. But PIA employees’ Joint Action Committee (JAC) expressed its resolve to continue protest against the planned sell-off of airline.

The spokesman said that some of the protesting employees want to resume their duty. “The pilots who resumed work on Sunday morning, operated the flights due to which the [flight] operations partially resumed,” he added.

A senior PIA official who wished not to be named told Business Recorder that flight operations were not halted when PALPA, Society of Engineers Aircraft Pakistan, and the CBA went on strike in 2011. At that time, they added, a good number of flights operations continued.

“Why Crisis Management Room and the Central Control Room were set up at the head office? Did the strike suit the government’s game-plan? Either the management was hand in glove with the protesting employees or those at the helm of affairs in PIA were simply incompetent,” he said.

He said that flight operations could have been restored within eight hours of the strike, but no attempt was made by the government in this regard.

NNI adds: The spokesman of the airline said the restoration of air service on Islamabad-Gilgit route is the result of joint efforts of all the departments of PIA.

Flight operation in other cities, including Karachi, Lahore and Quetta, however, remained suspended.

The PIA spokesman regretted inconvenience caused to all passengers due to the strike which he termed ‘illegal’.

According to Civil Aviation sources, a large number of PIA staffers have begun to resume their work. They said that 400 Umrah pilgrims will be brought back through Saudi Airlines.

Meanwhile, talks between the PIA workers and federal government failed to make any progress.

The PIA’s Joint Action Committee has given a 36-hour ultimatum to the government to meet its demands.

According to the Spokesperson for the Federal government, the decision by a number of PIA employees to resume duties was praiseworthy. He hoped that complete operations of the organisation would be restored anytime soon.

Source: Business Recorder