IN THE SUPREME COURT OF PAKISTAN
Constitutional Petition No. _____________/2012
Marvi Memon d/o Nisar Memon, Muslim Adult, 3 Pine street, Dr AQ Khan Road, Banigalla, Islamabad
1. The Federation of Pakistan through the Ministry of Defence, Government of Pakistan, Pakistan Secretariat;
2. Mr. Ahmed Mukhtar, Member National Assembly (former Minister of Defence and Chairman Pakistan International Airlines);
3. Managing Director, Pakistan International Airlines;
4. Mr. Naveed Qamar, Member National Assembly, Chairman Pakistan International Airlines;
5. The Federation of Pakistan through the Ministry of Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Government of Pakistan;
6. The Civil Aviation Authority
Petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973
- That the Petitioner is a citizen of Pakistan a former Member of National Assembly of Pakistan and has the vital interest in the questions of public importance with reference to the enforcement of the fundamental rights as enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan and particularly in the context of the present grievance of the petitioner in the enforcement of Article 9, 14, 15, 25.
- That on 17th July 2012 PK 301 from Islamabad to Karachi was delayed at Islamabad airport from 10 am to 2.30 pm for at least 4.5 hours. The Petitioner and more than 500 other passengers suffered physical and mental torture and their common routine of life and work was totally disrupted for not arriving at their respective destinations to carry on the common affairs of life. The torture included lack of ventilation in the plane for more than couple of hours whilst aircraft was parked at the Islamabad airport. It also included children, pregnant women, anemic people and old people who were subjected to difficult medical conditions in a cramped predicament. Many others who were travelling for work purposes lost out on many productive hours and suffered adverse financial consequences.
- That the passengers constantly complained regarding their suffering and inhuman conditions resulting from the inordinate delay to the ground and aircraft staff without any response. But the management was totally indifferent and did not communicate the reasons of delay transparently enough. Subsequently the passengers raised hue and cry against the PIA staff as they remained initially confined to the aircraft then brought back to the airport lounge and then again confined to the aircraft with no movement for 4.5 hours.
- As a result of the hue and cry the Petitioner decided to move a signature petition for the Supreme Court which records the following grievance on behalf of the passengers.
“We the passengers of PK 301 17/7/12 of 10am Islamabad to Karachi departure have been delayed since couple of hours. Productivity loss and massive inconvenience has been suffered by us all. We petition to Supreme Court against PIA and reasons for delay.”
- The above horrendous and inhuman incident is one more delay in the list of 4345 delays that have taken place in the last 3 months out of 12184 flights of PIA as per the record submitted by Respondent No.4 in the National Assembly in response to a question submitted by a Member of the National Assembly. The said record is contained in the official proceedings of the National Assembly.
- That the Respondent No.2 in an Interview given to Iftikhar Ahmed on “GEO TV” has unambiguously and categorically admitted that services of PIA are in such shambles that there is not even an iota of hope that the PIA can be run efficiently and safely. The main cause as per Respondent No.2 is the malady of corruption which he attributes is so pervasive in PIA that it cannot be cleansed. The transcript of the said Interview is available on the internet, and a copy of the CD of the the said Interview will be produced in due course in court.
- That there are many newspaper reports which depict the pathetic situation of PIA our national flagship airline which give as reasons for mismanagement delays nepotism inefficiency obsolete aircrafts which are run by PIA. The annual budget of PIA is immense and despite that passengers are subjected to life threatening safety hazards.
- That as a consequence of inefficiency, maladministration apathy, and corruption PIA is unable to generate sufficient profits to purchase outright or on lease the new or comparably new aircrafts which are fit as per international standards for flying human lives safely. Flying with PIA whose slogan used to be ‘Great people to fly with’ is now a safety hazard on a massive scale. There is no guarantee that anyone flying with PIA will land intact with his or her life. This is supported by evidence submitted in the National assembly which claims that PIA fleet is outdated and hazardous. It is relevant to submit here that this record has already been produced before Peshawar High Court in a writ petition number.
- That many a times especially in the Gilgit Baltistan territory bad weather is blamed for postponing and inordinate delays of flights whereas the real reason is mostly technical or administrative failures which are kept hidden from passengers. Newspaper reports suggesting the same are annexed.
- That the Respondent No.6’s Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) in particular have gone on ‘Go by book’ strikes which have also lead to delays. The ATC have been pushed into strikes due to the indifferent attitude of the administration of the Respondent No.6 towards their issues and problems. This situation has also resulted in a tense working atmosphere for the controllers, which is a serious safety hazard, as already tense controllers are working to handle hundreds of flights from all over the world flying through Pakistan airspace. This newspaper report is annexed.
- As a consequence Pakistan is loosing credibility and in financial terms as the international air traffic is reluctant to land at Pakistan airports unless they are compelled to do so and re-route many of their flights by-passing Pakistan. The hub of air traffic has shifted from Pakistan to Dubai. It is ironic that the training of Emirates staff was carried out by PIA in its halcyon days when its efficiency was at its pinnacle.
- One of the delays of 5 hours of PK 731 has been attributed to an aerobridge collapse. The petitioner strongly apprehends that our technical facilities at our airports are safety hazards for passengers. This newspaper report is annexed.
- That the main cause of the flight delays is shortage of aircraft and support equipment including lack of readily available spare parts resulting in safety hazards.
- That the Respondent No.6 is hereby called upon to respond and give details regarding the technical deficiencies and grievances alleged by the Petitioner.
- That the Saudi Aviation Authorities have given PIA final warning and put its operation under rigorous observation since these delays are causing inefficiencies at its own Jeddah airport. This said report is annexed. It is generally known and this Honorable Court can take judicial notice of the fact that many Hajis have suffered tremendously year after year due to PIA delays.
- That the collapse of PIA is due to the fact that the there is no governance by the federal government which has allowed its various Ministries and Ministers to run amuck and rampage their respective Ministries to indulge in corrupt practices and to milk them dry.
- That there is palpable malice that the PIA is being deliberately run down and debilitated to ensure the financial feasibility of a private airline owned by the current corrupt rulers. Evidence supporting this can be found in the many newspapers and Television talk shows which are annexed.
- That the financial loss caused by PIA to national exchequer is in billions. Annexed are newspaper reports suggesting the same.
- That the mismanagement corruption and inefficiencies if PIA have been raised in Parliament many a times but there has been no meaningful response and alleviation of grievances by the government which has always stalled the problem to carry on its corrupt practices.
- That there is a VVIP culture in PIA whilst treating the passengers. The privileged elite class, such as top bureaucrats, military officials, government officials, parliamentarians have separate lounges and fast track treatment irrespective of the fact whether they have paid for a lower or higher fare. Internationally, this fast track treatment is based on higher fare rather than the mere fact of belonging to an elite class.
- That the PIA does not employ as per merit and has overstaffed for political gain. That sometimes the government has employed Managing Directors of PIA who are unrelated experience wise to managing the affairs of a major national flag carrier.
That this petitioner most respectfully invokes the immediate attention of this Honorable Court regarding its grievances which essentially are of public importance based on the following grounds:
- That Article 9 ensures the freedom of life for every citizen. Travelling in PIA is life threatening;
- That the delays mismanagement, lack of facilities, national honour and the senseless inconveniences are against the ‘dignity’ of a person which is declared under Article 14 are inviolable. The whole pathetic situation as recounted and alleged against PIA in the facts of the petition counters the dignity of the Petitioner and consequentially the public in general.
- That under Article 15 of the Constitution free movement throughout Pakistan is a fundamental right. PIA is the only national flag carrier. The grievances of the Petitioner and the public at large regarding PIA as submitted in the Facts herein above not only restricts the free movement but is in fact counterproductive to such movement.
- That due to the delays mismanagement and corruption in PIA it is not possible for a citizen to conduct the trade or business efficiently as such people cannot easily travel with safety. Therefore the entire behavior of PIA is in violation of the general public’s right of conducting trade and business under Article 18.
- That there is VIP culture of elite and privileged class in Pakistan in reference to flying. The ordinary citizen is discriminated against. B This violates Article 25 of the Constitution.
- That the grievances of the petitioner and the general public calls for investigation of the affairs of PIA in depth to identify corruption mismanagement inefficiencies and the lack of employing the competent staff.
- That the petitioner respectfully prayers to submit additional grounds at the time of arguments.
Therefore, for what has been submitted hereinabove, it is humbly prayed that the instant petition and the facts laid down may graciously be taken into consideration and this Honorable Court may, therefore, be pleased to:
(I). Investigate into the affairs of the PIA in depth to identify corruption mismanagement inefficiencies and the lack of employing the competent staff;
(II). Take cognizance of the corrupt, illegal and inefficient practices within PIA;
(III). Direct the Respondents to immediately taken action to remove all corrupt, illegal and inefficient practices within PIA;
(IV.) Graciously grant any better relief so deemed appropriate under the circumstances submitted above.
Former Member, National Assembly
As per my instructions, it is the first constitutional petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 before this Honorable Court. The Petitioner has not previously filed Writ Petition under Article 199 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 in the High Courts of Pakistan.
Aap Ki Baat – PIA Service – 17th July 2012 Part 1 – SAMAA TV- Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqPh5ETa8o4
National Assembly Session 44
“QUESTIONS FOR ORAL ANSWERS AND THEIR REPLIES”
to be asked at a sitting of the National Assembly to be held on
Friday, the 6th July, 2012
53. Mr. Muhammad Riaz Malik:
Will the Minister for Defence be pleased to refer to Starred Question No.28 replied on 15-3-2012 and to state the total number of PIA flights whose arrivals and departures delayed during the period from 1-1-2012 till date?
Minister for Defence (Syed Naveed Qamar): Total of 12,148 flights operated during January, February and March, 2012.Out of which 4,345 flights were delayed. The percentage of delay is 35.76%.
- During said three months average percentage of punctuality was 64.3% and average percentage of Regularity was 95.33%.
- Details of flights operated during 03 month, flight delayed, cancelled and regularity of flights are indicated at Annex-A, B & C.
Note.—Punctuality: (Means how many flights departed in time.) Regularity: (Means how many flights operated as per planned schedule.) (Annexures have been placed in the National Assembly Library)
Program “Awam Ki Adalat”, Geo Tv, 15 July 2012. Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJOkB9URJ8A
Program: Awam Ki Adalat
Host: Iftikhar Ahmad
Gust: Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar Minister for Water and Power, Former Minister for Defense
News Channel: Geo News
Date: 15 July 2012
Iftikhar Ahmad: When you became Chairman PIA you said PIA will become profit making institution within 5 years. When you took government in 2008 PIA loss stood at Rs42.2 billion, now in September 2011 it has reached to Rs111.5 billion. This was the result of Rs70 million daily loss.
Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar: you are right, loss has increased, but devaluation of Rupee was main reason, increase of one rupee in the price of one dollar surges the loss to Rs1 billion without flying.
Iftikhar Ahmad: You are industrialist yourself, you realised that value of dollar will increase, you knew it will increase the loss, industrialists take such initiatives in this situation so that they avoid loss. What did you do as chairman PIA to avoid loss?
Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar: As Chairman PIA we did not take any significant step because we cannot predict future, public sectors are not allowed to predict which things will get costly, which things should be bought and which things should be sold in future. So that’s why PIA did not do any…… (planning).
Iftikhar Ahmad: Mr. Ahmad Mukhtar, when you became Chairman in 2008 your brother was the Chairman before you, you must has some vision, you must had some desire to fix these issues. You must have some discussion at home on this. You knew what is destroying this institution.
Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar: I knew there are weaknesses and they should be fixed. It was (my) duty to fix these issues but there were many hurdles. Politics (in PIA) has reached to its peak, it reached to an extent that you give one order today next day it would be changed by some other person. There was no discipline in PIA.
Iftikhar Ahmad: What did you do to discipline this institution?
Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar: I tried to strengthen (empower) the Managing Director and his team. I tried to eliminate corruption from this institution at least, if nothing else. I can say this with confidence that no one can allege me and Board of Directors team of embezzling even one penny.
Iftikhar Ahmad: You were not involved in corruption?
Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar: Absolutely not. You can’t find that, and I have not done it.
Iftikhar Ahmad: But you couldn’t fix your institution?
Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar: My institution couldn’t be fixed. I opted to quit my institution.
Iftikhar Ahmad: Was that your incompetency?
Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar: You can say this.
Iftikhar Ahmad: What do you say?
Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar: I think I tried, I tried to make a team, that team couldn’t be completed, no one can do this alone, this is not a small institution where you have 25,000 workers, you have to look after them, do the maintenance and all.
Iftikhar Ahmad: When did you realise you can’t run this institution? When was the time in last 4 years when you thought you can’t do this?
Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar: I think it was 2011 when I decided to quit this institution for someone better than me. I told this President he happily agreed and asked me that if I can’t run this institution then I should leave it to someone who can. And he asked me name a person who can run this institution. I couldn’t point out anyone, there was dearth of professionalism. It was practically impossible to find someone in PIA.
Iftikhar Ahmad: 2171 people who were recruited in last 3 years cost Rs100 billion loss to PIA, you recruited them because they were Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) workers who were terminated by previous governments. Was this initiative right? Should a person who has experience in industry do this?
Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar: This is not correct that it was for PPP workers. We needed people for specialize jobs. People were getting trained and whenever there was some vacancy they were promoted and they took over.
Iftikhar Ahmad: Is it not a reality that out of 7000 PIA engineers 4000 engineers were recruited extra? This is your statement in Parliament.
Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar: I think you are right, less than 6000 (engineer) were extra, but they were being recruited for next job.
Iftikhar Ahmad: Deputy Managing Director PIA Saleem Siyani who recently resigned he was given handsome tax free salary. What did he do?
Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar: I hired him, I take the responsibility, I saw certain qualities in him, that’s why I asked him to join us. He had 27 years’ non-stop service experience in American Airline.
Iftikhar Ahmad: What improvements he brought?
Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar: People don’t know here even how to talk. Millions of dollars of PIA were struck up with various organizations, because they had to carry out certain steps. He brought back some $150 million to $200 million from Boeing and Airbus etc. We used this money in PIA.
Iftikhar Ahmad: PIA has more staff per aircraft than any other country in the world. It has 434 employees per plane, whereas India has 276 per plane and America has some 120 employees per plane.
Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar: Those PIA employees who are working in lower ranks get very low salary as compare to Emirates employees. For example if Emirates employees get 10,000 Dirhams than PIA employees get 250 to 300 Dirhams. They think if these employees are working on such low salaries then it’s the social responsibility……
Iftikhar Ahmad: What work they will do who are untrained, who are recruited on political bases so that they have source of income. How can you justify as Chairman?
Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar: I couldn’t justify, I resigned. If I could justify this I would have been still working there.
Iftikhar Ahmad: Will PIA get back its lost glory when we were proud of it in our youth and preferred PIA for travel.
Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar: I don’t think so, we can’t achieve what we are hoping we will achieve. It will take Herculean effort to achieve that. I can say with surety that what I think, what you think, and what these people think that this institution will be revived its………….. (interruption by host)
Iftikhar Ahmad: what is the reason?
Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar: There is so much corruption. There is corruption to an extent that you can’t imagine.
Iftikhar Ahmad: Who will address the issue of corruption? Army?
Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar: No, we will. We are thieves. We are involved in wrong doings.
Published: June 17, 2012
PIA attributes delay to bad weather, technical faults; Skardu hotel owners demand contingency measures. PHOTO: FILE
Over the last 11 days, there have been no flights between Islamabad to Skardu and the backlog of passengers in both areas is well into three figures.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the only airline that flies to this main town of Baltistan, claims that the flights have been delayed due to bad weather or at times due to technical faults in its plane.
Over a hundred passengers from Islamabad who reserved flights to Skardu have expressed concern over the delay as the airline’s maintains it is still “uncertain” if the flights will continue in the next few days.
Meanwhile, hotel owners in Skardu have complained that the delay in flights is putting their businesses in jeopardy.
In a letter to PIA Chairman Air Marshal retired Rao Qamar Sultan, Arif Aslam Khan, who operates hotels in Skardu, maintained that over 500 people have been stranded in the hilly region, waiting to fly back to Islamabad. He said that as there was one flight from Islamabad to Skardu everyday during the tourism season, starting mid-May till mid- September, the backlog is increasing rapidly. He said that the backlog of passengers has also increased since the airline stopped flights to Skardu on Mondays since last October.
Khan maintained that even if the delay is due to bad weather or technical faults in the planes, the airline should have a contingency plan for people wanting to travel to Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) during the tourism season. He added that the stranded passengers are not only tourists but also people wanting to visit their families in G-B.
Khan said that due to incidents of sectarian attacks and kidnappings of passengers on Karakoram Highway, road travel to Skardu is considered highly unsafe. He suggested that if PIA is facing technical issues with its planes, it could hire C-130 aircrafts to clear the backlog and also make up for the lost revenue.
Despite repeated attempts, PIA Spokesperson Sultan Ahmed could not be contacted for comments on the delay and if the airline is taking any remedial measures.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2012.
PIA flights delay on CAA officials’ protest
Karachi: Total 61 domestic and 18 international flights of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to be arrived on Tuesday the airports of the country are facing plausible delays due to a protest campaign of the Air Traffic Controllers.
In addition, this is to result in the loss of about Rs 700 million a week to the national airlines, which is already in the loss of Rs 2bn, while it is also to make other international airlines not to come to Pakistan because of safety hazards.
As per details, more than 250 operational Air Traffic Controllers of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) all over the country went on ‘GO BY THE BOOK’ campaign from Friday and they have stopped going the extra mile to accommodate the traffic for short cuts and expedite the landings and take off on the 23 domestic stations of the country.
Resultantly on Tuesday, total 79 domestic and international flights of PIA faced delays. While international flights of other airlines and domestic operations of Airblue and Shaheen Air also got affected. By dint of this campaign of the Air Traffic Controllers the flights from Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, and Middle East airlines suffered from the loss of some 17920 Nautical Miles per week in terms of track shortening, and only Karachi airport is to lose around 500 nautical miles/per week.
Industry experts informed that a 747 plane consumes 20kg fuel per nautical mile, and the price of that fuel is about $22, while a 737 plane consumes 9kg/NM fuel that has price of $9. Resultantly, total loss on the non-saving of some 17929 nautical miles a week is around Rs 700m, which is a fatal blow to the already broken national airlines.
Besides, this action has resulted in delays to flights all across Pakistan causing inconvenience to passengers and millions of rupees of extra fuel being burnt by the airlines. Total international flights affected on Tuesday of PIA at Karachi airport were 5, Lahore 2, Islamabad 5, Peshawar 5, and Quetta 1.
On domestic front total arrivals of the PIA flights that got affected include 18 flights at Karachi airport, 16 at Lahore airport, 15 at Islamabad airport, 2 at Peshawar airport, 4 at Quetta airport, 2 at Faislabad airport, and 4 at Multan airport.
Sources informed that the traffic controllers have been pushed into this because of the indifferent attitude of the administration of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) towards their issues and problems. This situation has also resulted in a tense working atmosphere for the controllers, which is a serious safety hazard, as already tense controllers are working to handle hundreds of flights from all over the world flying through Pakistan airspace.
Technically this airspace is considered to be one of the most difficult because of presence of high number of conflicting dangerous routes, so just imagine a dissatisfied and frustrated controller sitting on the controls to do this difficult job is a serious safety hazard, sources added.
According to the details, CAA administration about a month back made an agreement with the traffic controllers to immediately implement the immediate relief package of 125% rating allowance (originally it was 250 as approved by 262 CAA executive Committee meeting).
This offer of the CAA was accepted by the controllers to end the ongoing protest at that time, as it was promised to be processed in 15 days. But it has been now more than 40 days and CAA has failed to even discuss this in house, therefore, the traffic controllers lost their interest in the work and went on the said campaign for indefinite period.
|Monday, May 14, 2012|
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Saudi aviation authorities give PIA final warning
Sunday, June 17, 2012
From Print Edition
30 17 7 6
KARACHI: Challenges are increasing for the new management as the Saudi aviation authorities have given Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) a final warning and have put its operations under strict observation to decide regarding its performance as per passengers’ inconvenience and its affect on Jeddah airport’s operations, sources said on Saturday.
Owing to the incessant delayed operations of PIA flights to Saudi Arabia, the officials at the Hajj terminal have issued stern warning to PIA, the sources said.
The officials said that they are facing various problems due to excessive delays of PIA flights to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the last couple of months, in general, and for the last couple of weeks, in particular.
The sources said that more than 70 percent of PIA flights to Saudi Arabia operated were delayed during the last couple of months. This has come as a severe blow to the new management of the national airlines as with almost a dozen of its aircraft non-operational for want of repairs, it too has not yet been able to take control of this old problem that had always been causing embarrassment on the international front, the sources added. The Saudi authorities are keeping PIA under observation for another one week till the end of this month and if the national flag carrier fails to set things right in just a week, it may face a ban in the near future, the sources added.
In the absence of improvement in maintaining the schedule, the General Authority of the Civil Aviation (GACA) of Saudi Arabia will be recommended for the reduction in PIA slots for schedule, as well as Umrah flights, the sources added.
This is the second time the Saudi authorities have issued warning to PIA, while a similar kind of warning was also issued by the London Heathrow Airport Authorities to maintain timely operation during Olympics, otherwise they will bar PIA from landing there, the sources said. The Saudi authorities have asked PIA that in case of delay of flights they will provide airport facilities only on subject to availability basis.
“In case the flight is delayed at the origin station / JED for more than once (rolling delay), passengers must be sent to hotel and may be picked up after minimum rest,” the authority added.
The Express Tribune
By Tufail Ahmed
Published: January 2, 2012
CAA grants approval for commercial operations to two new carriers. PHOTO: REUTERS/ FILE
KARACHI: The country’s aviation regulator has allowed two airline companies to operate passenger flights, prompting reservations from the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), which said the approval will only enhance losses of the national flag carrier that is mired in deep financial crisis.
Indus Airlines is a new carrier that is among the two companies granted approval by the Civil Aviation Authority. PIA has demanded that Indus Airlines’ licence be cancelled.
Sources say Indus Airlines’ application for provision of space for an office and a hanger is also in the final stages of approval. After the new licences, the total number of airlines authorised to operate on commercial basis is six, including PIA, Air Blue, Shaheen Air, Indus Air, Bhoja Air and Pearl Air.
Bhoja Air’s licence expired last year, sources say, but has now been renewed. It is mandatory now for the airline to start its operations, sources add.
In a letter to the CAA, PIA has requested the regulator to cancel Indus Airlines’ licence, granted a year ago, citing financial and technical problems for the national carrier.
At present, two airlines are operating successfully in the private sector including Air Blue and Shaheen Air.
According to sources, however, Indus Airlines has already acquired an office at the Jinnah International Airport, which is not operational yet. The company has hinted that it plans to start its operations by mid-March. Sources add that the company has hired executive officers from PIA as well as other airlines, but has not yet decided about the types of aircraft it will induct in its fleet.
The name of the new airline’s chief has not been announced yet.
A spokesperson for Indus said the airline is a consortium of various companies, has acquired offices and is hiring staff in different departments.
The airline will host an inauguration ceremony soon where further details will be provided to the media, the spokesperson added.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd, 2012.
Blog The Express Tribune
The PIA problem
December 21, 2011
Rumour has it that PIA is purposely being run into the ground to benefit the President’s sister Faryal Talpur.
This article is not written with the intent of defending President Asif Ali Zardari or his party.It aims to illustrate how the hyperpersonalisation of politics and governance in Pakistan hascreated unachievable expectations for quick fixes, based onoverly simplistic explanations of state failure.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is an illustration of perhaps the biggest disservice the president has done for his country; he allowed himself to become a lightning rod for every explanation of state failure. By explaining the poor performance of the state to the person who occupies the Presidency, we overlook the many structural, underlying and historical reasons that perpetuate state failure.
The dominant narrative which explains the mess that PIA is currently stuck in, is that the national carrier is purposely being run into the ground so that Indus Airway, linked to the president’s sister Faryal Talpur, can benefit. In fact, it appears that Abdul Wahab, the man behind Karakoram Motors is the lead investor in Indus Air.
Last week, news report claimed that PIA had grounded 18 planes. A passage read:
On Wednesday, a Riyadh-bound flight from Lahore was just cancelled only because a 9-volt battery, used to operate one of its emergency gates, was found out of order, provoking the passengers who vent their anger on the airport administration.
I am not sure about everybody else, but if this happens with me, I would want my plane to be grounded when its most crucial component that facilitating emergency exits is out-of-order. Granted, PIA could do a better job to replace the offending part on time and improve preventative maintenance. However, given the news, Facebook and Twitter lit up with commentary on how PIA is purposefully sabotaging and compromising its own aircraft to serve the president’s interests.
A couple of months ago, rumours circulated that the increased frequency of emergency landings by PIA were being orchestrated to tarnish its image and reputation. Investigation should be carried out to find out if poor maintenance and incompetence has led to an increase in emergencies. Why would experienced pilots risk not only their lives and licenses but also the lives of their crew and passengers by “orchestrating” emergency landings?
PIA faces many challenges like global economic depression, rising fuel costs, stiff competition, massive labour costs and inefficient vendor supply chains, to name a few. It also has to deal with the recruitment of skilled staff to Gulf carriers while there is a drought in airline financing and the poor image of Pakistan negatively affecting its ability to attract passengers from other countries. It’s ironic when an airline cannot upload an accurate destination map. And it doesn’t help either when the MD of that company states that: “pilgrims should be thankful for travelling in aircraft, rather than on camels”!
However these issues, incident by incident are overlooked and reduced to the now ubiquitous explanation that PIA’s failures are a result of Zardari’s greed.
PIA is managed under the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the MoD for all practical purposes is under the influence of the military. Does the cosy relationship between the regulator, the CAA and PIA not lead to a conflict of interests? Speaking of the military, why do we overlook how the military run NLC has contributed to the railway’s decline?
Zardari and the PPP are rightly criticised for mismanagement and poor governance. However, decisions that influence the well being of the state organisations or require the allocation of tax payers resources must be made on the basis of a rational and impassioned analysis. Not doing so creates the illusion that only PPP’s exit will lead to an improvement and also imposes improbable expectations on the government that will follow.
Whoever comes into power after Zardari will have to meet the expectations of a society which has been made to believe that every ill faced by the nation is the result of the greed and incompetence of one individual. A nation misinformed by political parties, commentators and the media, is then unable to accept the necessary reforms that our state owned enterprises require. Will getting rid of the PPP and Zardari be enough?
Published: December 22, 2011
KARACHI: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has suffered almost Rs70.68 million loss daily due to delayed flights during January-September 2011, According to official sources. The national carrier was maintaining its domestic and international flights’ schedule with a fleet of 34 aircraft of which five were under scheduled maintenance. The operational fleet consists of nine Boeing 777, four Boeing737, nine Airbus 310, six ATRs and six Boeing 747s which are mostly used for Hajj, Umrah and charter operations. Besides, the Boeing 747s are used for supplementing scheduled flights, if an aircraft is taken out of operation for some maintenance work.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 22nd, 2011.