Former governor of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan Abbasi, has been appointed the adviser to the prime minister on aviation with the key objective of turning around the fate of the loss-making national airline.
A notification issued by the Cabinet Division said the president of Pakistan, on the advice of prime minister, has appointed Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan Abbasi as adviser to the prime minister with the status of federal minister with immediate effect.
A PML-N senator is reported to have said that initially he was to be appointed the PIA chairman but the government has sought to give him an even more important position of aviation advisor.
It was expected that Abbasi might be given the additional charge of PIA chairman as well. However, the chances of this are slim.The PIA chairman must be a member of the board of directors, which he is not, as the board has powers to elect the chairman only and no one else.
Abbasi would head PIA in the capacity of adviser and not as a full-time chairman, it was learnt later.
A close aide of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Abbasi had expressed the desire to head PIA with the objective of fixing its financial problems, when the (PML-N) government removed him as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa governor and appointed Zafar Iqbal Jaghra (in March 2016).
A PIA official also confirmed that Abbasi had been attending the airline’s office for over two months now, but not on a regular basis.
Federal Aviation Division Secretary Irfan Elahi has been serving as acting PIA chairman since December 2016.
Earlier, Azam Saigol resigned from the chairman’s post on December 12, 2016 days after a plane with 47 people on board crashed in Abbottabad minutes after take-off.
PIA reported a 2.3% increase in its accumulated losses to Rs 267.56 billion in the quarter ended March 31, 2016.