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The Senate Standing Committee on Aviation Tuesday flayed the manner of dismissal of 80 employees, including seven pilots and 73 cabin crew, of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) for possessing fake degrees, saying that rules were not followed in letter and spirit.
The committee met in the chair of Senator Mushahidullah Khan for a briefing on the issue of fake degrees of PIA employees.
The committee chairman severely criticised the termination of employees, saying the Supreme Court order was not followed in true sense. He urged the PIA management to take disciplinary actions against the people who inducted employees without verifying their documents before firing staff with fake degrees.
Minister for Privatisation and Aviation Mian Mohammad Soomro informed the committee that a four-year strategic business plan for the revival of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will be submitted to the prime minister in March. He also said that the Pakistan Air Force's cooperation helped establish the institution.
Soomro said the national flag carrier is now heading in the right direction and that the government will extend all possible support to the airline to make it a viable entity. He said that PIA cannot bear any more loss, adding there are no plans to run flights on less-profitable routes, he added.
Briefing the panel, president and chief executive office Air Marshal Arshad Malik said that PIA is at a loss of Rs 414 billion altogether; however a proficient marketing and strategic plan has been revised to generate revenue. He informed the committee that the amount of loss PIA had to bear was because of Open Sky Policy which is an international policy concept that calls for the liberalisation of the rules and regulations of the international aviation industry, especially commercial aviation, in order to create a free-market environment for the airline industry.
The Open Skies policy of the previous governments brought losses to the national carrier, Malik maintained. The government has already decided in principle to end the Open Skies policy.
PIA CEO Air Marshal Arshad Malik said the plan, currently being developed, consists of cost-cutting and revenue generation through detailed analysis of the market, rightsizing operations, work centres, flights and routes for the revival of the national carrier.
PIA's financial restructuring will be carried out through government support and at the same time the current fleet will be reviewed and purchase of new aircraft will be decided, he said.
Explaining PIA's financial health, he said the current operational losses are at Rs3 billion per month but this bleeding would be successfully plugged. He informed the committee that 200 ghost employees will be fired.
The committee was informed that 7 officers of Pakistan Air Force have been deputed in PIA by the Establishment Division, whereas Aviation Ministry has nothing to do with the appointment of officers on deputation.
The CEO PIA also said that the fake degree cases have been pursued whereby the degrees have never been verified in last 15 years. He said not only employees but also the pilots have fake degrees. He said more cases of fake degrees have surfaced.
The committee also summoned employees who have been expelled in next committee meeting which will be held during the next week.
He further said that flights on the profitable routes, such as Jeddah and Medina will be increased. The flights from Sialkot to Paris and Barcelona, Peshawar to Sharjah, Peshawar to Al Ain and Multan to Sharjah, have been started.
PIA official further said that PIA flights from Karachi to Dalbadin operate once a week because of low demand. The airline will take the necessary steps to expand the commercial value and market demand of the flight between Dalbadin and Karachi.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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