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Corruption caused heavy losses to PIA, Senate told

07 February, 2012

ISLAMABAD: The Upper House was informed on Monday that political interference, over employment, high ratio of workers, in-efficient management and strong union were responsible for heavy losses of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and demanded the federal minister for defence resign.

The House debated the PIA affairs after Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Senator Col (r) Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi tabled a motion. Corruption and political influence destroyed the PIA, he said, adding that despite the aircraft being full of passengers, the airline had been incurring losses for the last many years. Many international airlines got training from the PIA and are making profits while the PIA is going from bad to worse. The aeroplanes are 30 to 40 years old and the government should provide new aircraft so that PIA might come out form the existing crisis, he added.

Senator Professor Khurshid of the Jamaat-e-Islami was of the view that the Defence Ministry had failed to realise the urgency of the matter, which was of national importance. He regretted that the recommendation of the defence committee was not inculcated for the improvement of the national carrier. It is a matter of passengers' lives and it should be given top priority, he said.

PML-N Senator Mushahidullah told the House that PIA employees had not been given any allowance for the last several years and they were now demoralised over the proposal of its privatistion. There were no service rules for the PIA staff, he regretted. The PIA was on the top when professional people used to run it but now it was being run through nears and dears. A friend of President Asif Ali Zardari was appointed in PIA as managing director for $30,000 per month, who he said had no professional background. Despite the fact that PIA was running in losses, Pakistan People's Party workers were being appointed there, he said.

JI Senator Professor Ibrahim said the Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Steel Mills, WAPDA, and PIA were confronting losses due to corruption and violation of merit in appointments. The JUI-F Senator Haji Ghulam Ali was of the view that the PIA had been robbed of for the last four years. He said that the government had lost its mandate, and that there was a need to turn back to the people to elect their new public representatives.

Abdul Nabi Bangash of the Awami National Party (ANP) said that seats were empty in the PIA but its staff always claimed that the aeroplane was full. Abdur Rahim Mandokhel said that there were some mafia groups who wanted to exploit the situation of PIA and compel the government to privatize it.

Responding to the queries of senators, Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar said that the PIA would start acquiring new aircraft this year to provide better services to its customers. In a phased programme, 30 new aircraft will be included in the fleet, raising the strength to 70 with improved and younger look. Initially, the planes under the plan, which is scheduled to be completed by 2020, will be acquired on a five-year lease.

The government has already approved the plan and the PIA is presently engaged in working out its modalities. The idea behind induction of new planes in the fleet is to turn the PIA into a profitable organisation with focus on cost-cutting measures and not compromising quality.

The PIA is currently maintaining its domestic and international flights' schedule with a fleet of 34 aircraft, while five are under scheduled maintenance after completing their required number of flying hours. The minister claimed that the government will not sell PIA for peanuts after injecting Rs 15 billion into the national entity. "If my resignation could improve things for the PIA, I am ready to quit today," he said.


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