LAHORE, Oct 11: The Joint Action Committee of Pakistan International Airlines Employees (JACPIAE) has suggested short-and long-term measures to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to make it profitable again, requesting him to drop the idea of its privatisation as it is no solution to the problem.
“No airline can survive if its one-third fleet is grounded for want of spares,” the JACPIAE said in a letter to the PM. It said the move was a wrong option in view of the fact that private airlines like Aero Asia, Bhoja Air and Rajhi Airline had already been closed. “Air Blue is already in the red light.”
It said the situation was not beyond the grasp of collective wisdom and endeavors. Some basic and productive steps might see the renaissance of PIA’s past glory.
The PIA employees suggested following measures to save the airline from a financial collapse.
IMMEDIATE STEPS: Aircraft B-777 should be operated on long routes. This aircraft is basically designed for a minimum of 7 and a 1/2 hrs per landing to be able to retain its operational life for long period. Its operation to destinations like Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Middle East countries is surly a losing proposition.
The entire fleet can be made airworthy by procuring spares.
The letter said in view of high fuel costs no airline could make profit solely on passengers alone. Therefore, freight service must be introduced. At least for a period of five years, custom duty on aircraft spare parts, levy of 24 per cent sales tax, 16 per cent additional sales tax and five per cent income tax should not be applied.
It said heavy charges levied by the Civil Aviation Authority be reviewed and suitably curtailed.
Political appointments in management cadre should be stopped and appointment of only professional be ensured.
SHORT TERM MEASURES: While purchasing/leasing short route/fuel efficient aircraft similarity of equipment corresponding to present technical infrastructure must remain as a prime factor to avoid loss of precious foreign exchange by sending the equipment for overhaul/repair abroad.
Technical ground support equipment should be upgraded to assure on time safe aircraft departures.
To revive the EASA-145 approval necessary funds be provided to the engineering department to rectify the discrepancies and upgrade the technical infrastructure.
Upgradation of engineering infrastructure to develop in-house infrastructure for B-777 and ATR-42 aircraft equipment overhaul/ repair facility. This will save huge amount of foreign exchange.
Isphahani Hangar Facilities should be upgraded to match international requirements. “Even drinking water is not available there”.
FIVE-YEAR PLAN: Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) required facilities should be created to boost revenue. In this connection jet hangar be upgraded to cater to outside party aircraft.
Currently, small engines of privately owned aircraft are being sent abroad for overhaul. A facility for this purpose can be created with a low cost. Once it is created and approved, the government should ban such engines to be sent abroad since the facility will be available in Pakistan.
A separate hangar be constructed and equipped to handle outside party aircrafts.
The employees further say the PIA is blessed with highly qualified and experienced professionals (except those who sneaked through the back door due to favoritism/nepotism).
“We truly believe that concrete steps can take PIA out of the operational paralysis and make it a profitable organisation and a pride for the people of Pakistan,” the letter says.