In addition to grilling the management of the national flag carrier, members of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat criticised their own government on Monday over the excessive salary packages awarded to Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) employees under the current regime.
As committee members listened incredulously to accounts of payments made to PIA senior management, pilots and engineers, PML-N MNA Syed Javed Ali Shah pointed out that the officials before the committee should not be grilled as “they were not at fault”. “Do we raise this issue at the right forum and in our camps,” Mr Shah asked his fellow lawmakers. “The prime minister is the decision-making authority, but have we asked the authority not to hire experts at such exorbitant packages?” The PIA officially functions under the prime minister and is directly overseen by Capt Shujaat Azeem, PM’s special assistant on aviation. Capt Azeem looks after the affairs of the airlines as well as the Civil Aviation Authority. However, most members seemed content to blame PIA for all its ills.
During Monday’s proceedings, committee members were annoyed to learn that a legal adviser was getting a monthly package of around Rs2.49 million. The committee was also told about the recent hiring of an IT director in PIA at Rs1.1 million per month. The committee was told that there were 991 PIA employees drawing more than Rs200,000 per month, including 511 officials from the engineering department, 412 pilots and 59 officers of the management group. The MNAs noted that too many pilots were receiving between Rs1 and Rs1.4 million every month. The aviation secretary told the committee that PIA pilots were guaranteed 50 hours of flying allowance, even if they don’t fly. However, he revealed that office bearers of the Pakistan Airline Pilots Association are given a guaranteed allowance for 105 hours.