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ISLAMABAD: The government informed National Assembly on Friday that there is no plan to privatize Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

During the question hour, Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan said the government is very keen to make the national flag carrier a self-reliant and profitable entity. “Hectic efforts are being made to improve the financial status of the airline by reducing its losses through various means”, he added.

The minister said loss-making routes of PIA have been shut down and flights on profitable routes have been added which has resulted in a reduction of losses.

Responding to a question, he said 82 pilots were dismissed from service for acquiring licenses through unfair means, adding a mechanism has now been evolved to ensure the issuance of licenses in a transparent manner.

“An agreement to this effect has also been signed with the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA),” he added.

Ghulam Sarwar told that International Civil Aviation Authority will carry out an audit of our Civil Aviation Authority in July this year.

Expressing confidence that the PIA will regain its past glory, the minister said this would lead to removal of travel restrictions on PIA imposed by a few European countries.

He said Quetta and Dera Ismail Khan airports would be upgraded and eight new aircraft would be inducted into PIA fleet to further improve its performance.

Khan said total 1,925 employees had opted for the voluntary separation scheme (VSS) from the PIA, adding VSS package had been designed based on the length of service of regular employees to commensurate to their basic pay.

The European Union aviation safety watchdog had previously decided to retain its ban on PIA from operating in EU member states, expressing its dissatisfaction over the steps taken by CAA to address licensing and safety concerns. However, recently in March, they termed safety standards of CAA as satisfactory.

The decision was made following a two-day meeting of the European Union’s Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and CAA officials, in which representatives from Denmark, Italy and Sweden participated via video link.

During the meeting, deputy director general for regulatory affairs Nadir Shafi Dar briefed the participants on the steps taken by the country’s aviation authority.

In a written reply to the house, the minister said PIA’s total debt as of 30th June 2019, was Rs286.01 billion instead of Rs400 billion that includes government of Pakistan guaranteed loans.

He said loans from the government, loans on PIA balance sheet and markup, whereas average monthly loss for the year 2019 remained Rs644 million.

Later, the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan told the House that Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken the initiative of the ‘Live Call Programme’ to directly connect with the people and listen to their problems.

Soon after the question hour, deputy speaker Qasim Suri gave the floor to Rahat Amanullah to move a calling attention in the House. However, Syed Hussain Tariq of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) pointed out the quorum.

The chair ordered to make counting, but the House was not in order resulting adjournment of the session till Monday at 4pm.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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