Strike called off as PIA MD resigns

The staff of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) called off their strike after the national flag carrier’s managing director tendered his resignation on Friday. Bowing to the 4-day countrywide protests of the PIA employees that crippled air operation in the country, managing director, Ejaz Haroon, resigned from his post that was accepted with immediate effect. This was told after successful talks between the government and the PIA’s Joint Action Committee (JAC) at Islamabad. Interior Minister Rehman Malik, flanked by Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar and Pakistan Airlines Pilots’ Association (PALPA) President Sohail Baloch, said that all the demands of the PIA employees had been accepted and the MD had resigned from his post.

He said that flight operations would resume after midnight, adding that “we all have to work to make the PIA a successful organisation”. Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar said that Ejaz Haroon’s resignation had been accepted with immediate effect. PALPA President Sohail Chaudhry said that he was thankful to President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani for their efforts to fulfil the demands of the PIA employees who were protesting for their rights. At least 380 domestic and international flights were cancelled and 25,000 passengers stranded since the strike began on last Tuesday in protest over a proposed code share agreement with the Turkish Airlines. The strike caused a loss of Rs 500 million per day to the PIA.

Meanwhile, the JAC has asked the government to place the name of outgoing MD Captain Ejaz Haroon on the Exit Control List (ECL) and initiate a judicial commission to probe massive corruption in the national flag carrier. JAC senior leader Captain Tariq Mahmood Rabbani told Daily Times that they had demanded of the government to put the name the outgoing managing director on the ECL and initiate an immediate probe into the alleged massive corruption in the airline that drag it into worst financial constraints. Under the proposed deal with the Turkish Airlines, which is yet to be approved by the government and regulators, the PIA would relinquish some of its lucrative European and US routes, which include flights to Germany, Spain, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Chicago and New York.

According to the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of PIA employees, handing over these profitable routes would deprive the national airlines of billions of rupees in revenue. The PIA employees’ strike lasted four days and grounded more than 200 flights. – Daily Times