Aviation authorities waited the whole day on Saturday for a meeting with representatives of pilots associated with the national flag carrier – but it did not happen. The Aviation Division blames the Pakistan Airlines Pilot Association (Palpa) for the deadlock in talks as the gruelling strike lingers on.
“The deadlock is from their side as the Palpa president did not show up for a meeting,” PIA’s Director General Public Affairs Danyal Gilani said while talking to The Express Tribune on Saturday. He added that the Aviation Division had formally sent a letter to Capt Amir Hashmi for a meeting with Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Aviation Shujaat Azeem. However, Hashmi did not turn up.
“I am directed by the special assistant to the prime minister on aviation to ask you to attend a meeting at the Aviation Division office Islamabad to discuss/address the Palpa issues with the PIA management at the earliest possible time today, 3rd October,” reads the letter. Gilani claims that only four out of the 110 scheduled flights have been cancelled due to the Palpa strike.
Spokesperson for Aviation Division Sher Ali Khan told The Express Tribune that Hashmi had confirmed during a TV talk show that he would attend the meeting on Sunday. Hashmi also confirmed to The Express Tribune that he has agreed to Sunday’s meeting. “When the government appoints handpicked people who do not have relevant experience, then such things will happen,” he said while referring to the strike.
“We are ready to discuss all the issues/concerns raised by Palpa,” Ali said but made it clear that the Hajj operation should not be disrupted at any cost.
Earlier in the day, licences of two pilots were suspended by the Civil Aviation Authority for violation of discipline and Gilani said the PIA has nothing to do with that decision. These pilots had refused to perform their duty under pressure from Palpa.
While talking about flight operations, Gilani said that 95% of PIA flights were on time despite pressure from Palpa. “We are trying our best to maintain smooth flight operations for Hajj flights so that the pilgrims, especially those injured in the Mina stampede, do not face any problems,” he added.
According to details, four flights out of 110 scheduled for the day were cancelled as pilots had refused to fly and reported sick. The four flights cancelled included two on Multan-Karachi route, PK-330 and PK-331 while the other two were running on Lahore-Quetta route, PK- 322 and PK-323.
Gilani said the PIA had been informing passengers regarding delays and new schedules of their flights through the airline’s SMS service. At least 51 flights have been cancelled during the last three days and several others have been delayed or re-routed and around 5,500 passengers affected.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2015.