PIA to present comprehensive five-year revival plan within three months

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ISLAMABAD: The management of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will develop a comprehensive five-year strategic business plan to turn the national flag carrier into a profitable entity and revive its past glory, PIA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Air Marshal Arshad Mehmood Malik said on Tuesday.

“Due to mismanagement and corruption, PIA had become a liability. Prime Minister Imran Khan tasked us to revive the PIA as a profitable enterprise,” he told a news conference here at the Press Information Department (PID). “Ever since taking the responsibility in October 2018, we have taken some short-term measures to ensure its smooth functioning and now we are going to give a five-year long-term plan in a three-month period.”

Aviation Minister Muhammad Mian Soomro, Special Assistant to PM on Media Affairs Iftikhar Durrani and Aviation Division Secretary Shahrukh Nusrat were also present on the occasion.

Arshad Malik said that the five-year plan would undertake measures for cost saving, revenue generation, improvement and expansion of flight operations. “Financial restructuring through government support will also be part of the plan,” he said.

He said that revival of the airlines’ past glory was a daunting task but he had full backing of the aviation minister to turns its fortunes. He said after assuming the charge, he found that PIA was a white elephant turned black hole due to several issues such as meddling of PIA Union in administrative affairs, corruption, non-professional attitude and overstaffing.

“But I also found that PIA pilots, engineers and technicians were the best in the industry and they only needed ownership to harmonize their energies,” he added.

Talking about the cost saving operations undertaken by the new management, he said a strategy was being evolved to stop bleeding and cut costs of the national airlines.

He said seven loss making routes, including Lahore-Delhi-Lahore, Karachi-Dhaka-Karachi, Karachi-Muscat-Karachi, Karachi-Kuala Lumpur-Karachi, Karachi-Bangkok-Karachi, Pakistan-Paris-Barcelona and Karachi-Najaf-Karachi had been suspended.

“Flights to these routes were causing a loss of Rs500 million every month,” he said, adding that flight on Islamabad-Beijing-Tokyo-Beijing-Islamabad route was causing a loss of Rs300 million every month as PIA was allowed to pick only 80 passengers from Tokyo on a 350-seat aircraft.

He said rationalization, closure and rerouting of flights was yielding fruits as Rs200 million would be saved per month.

“Seven profit-making routes had been introduced where seat factor was around 95pc as compared to the closed routes where seat factor was only 54pc,” he said. “The night landing facility at Peshawar Airport is being restored and soon passengers, including expats, will directly land there.”

The PIA CEO said that the airline was operating a fleet of 32 aircraft out of which six were grounded rather abandoned. The overhauling of these aircraft is being done by the airline’s engineers and technicians, he added.

He said around 200 hundred ghost employees had been removed while action had also been taken against the fake degree-holders as per Supreme Court’s directions.

Describing the non-professional attitude of the previous PIA management, he said that there was extreme lack of interest to run the national airline. Even engines of some airplanes had been removed, while wings and other parts also disappeared, he deplored.

He said the ground support equipment and vehicles, which were getting expired, were being refurbished.

Special Assistant to PM on Media Iftikhar Durrani on the occasion said as many as 550 international flights were operating per week under the open skies policy in 2008, but unfortunately the number gradually declined to 376 flights in the next 10 years during the tenures of Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

Ironically, he said, the PIA started facing crisis with the ‘taking-off’ of the democracy under the Charter of Democracy.

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