PIA and its precious routes

The ink has barely dried on the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Turkish Airlines that a cacophony of protest and controversy has started to stop any deal right in its tracks. A deal to sell PIA’s international routes to Europe and the US to Turkish Airlines is in the pipeline to inject some financial health back into the flailing organisation. However, it is well known that for any airline, its international routes are the lifeblood of the organisation. The fact that PIA has gone so far down into the doldrums to have to forsake its major foreign routes is a glaring and ominous sign of just how bad things are with the national flag carrier.A nationwide strike was observed where employees of PIA took it upon themselves to protest this understanding between their airline and Turkish Airlines. A joint action committee of PIA employees gave two ultimatums: the sacking of Managing Director Aijaz Haroon and the cancellation of the proposal given to Turkish Airlines. Due to this strike, many PIA flights were unable to take off and had to be rescheduled or cancelled. Disciplinary action is slated to take place against all dissenting employees.

All the fuss boils down to the fact that the affairs of PIA are going from bad to worse. PIA has the largest employee ratio of all airlines the world over. It is overrun by too many people who are not needed in too few slots, with new positions being created to accommodate the favoured many; due to the fact that many meritless appointments are made, ineptness has crept into every aspect of the running of the airlines. It has suffered irreparable losses and there is every chance that this deal could, contrary to saving the airline, damage it further. These routes are the routes used most commonly by our expatriates from Pakistan to Europe and the US and back. To lose these flights could mean losing valuable revenue.The government must look into this matter. It is the basic structure of the organisation that needs to be overhauled to make it more efficient and profitable. The proposed measures should be the last resort. It is time the national flag carrier fixes its own house before looking to surrender some of its biggest assets – Dailytimes