ISLAMABAD: Invigorated by the prime minister’s backing, the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has decided not to cede ground to its protesting pilots and instead hire new ones to keep the flight operations running.
The airline’s management has come up with “Plan B” to deal with the protesters. The contingency plan includes seeking services of Pakistan Navy’s pilots and contract hiring of more pilots, if the protesters do not give up. Officials claimed that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who intervened to end the deadlock a day earlier, had asked the administration to only look into the “genuine demands” of pilots and take a “clear stance” against any illegitimate demands.
PIA Chairman Nasir Jaffar also repeated this in his news conference in the afternoon. The management, he said, has prepared an alternative plan, under which Pakistan Navy’s ATRs and their staff would remain on standby to be used in case any pilot reports sick at the eleventh hour.
“If the protest continues for a longer period, the management plans to hire new pilots on contract,” he said in a clear warning that the protesters could lose their jobs.
Medical board formed
Taking notice of 21 pilots falling sick on the same day, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has constituted a panel to examine the “sick” pilots’ professional viability after checking on their medical and psychological condition.
“The medical board will also determine how 21 individuals fell ill at the same time immediately after Palpa announced its go-slow policy, resulting in flight delays that inflicted losses on the national flag carrier and caused inconvenience to passengers,” the CAA spokesperson said.
Hike in airfares
Taking notice of the sudden increase in airfares, the Competition Commission of Pakistan has initiated an inquiry against private airlines that increased their fares by 100% benefitting from the ongoing tussle between the PIA management and Palpa.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2015.