Why PIA has been under so much heat lately?


Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is under a lot of heat and criticism recently because of the recent events that have unfolded. Due to the latest accusations the Pakistani government has sought support from lawmakers across different political party lines to label the national airline a loss. They have declared the flag carrier “bankrupt” and have officially asked for it to be shut down to prevent further burden on the country’s economy.

In the Senate Special Committee, Prime Minister’s Adviser of Aviation Sardar Mehtab Abbasi put forward the recommendation to declare the airline bankrupt and close it down. He quoted that “Such a recommendation from a parliamentary committee will help the government take the difficult decision that it is otherwise hesitating to take.”

In the committee, the main agenda was to discuss the failing state of the air carrier and come up with recommendations to overhaul PIA. It further dissected the incidents that occurred over the course of previous months which attributed a negative name to PIA as well as the country. Abbasi in the committee session gave out three recommendations to the people present in the meeting: Let the airline run the way it is running and operate in loss, secondly they can declare it bankrupt and shut it down or it is time to restructure and reform it into a the glory days of being the best airline in Pakistan. While, the debate about PIA is still going on we’re going to be discussing each incident here in detail. This would be done in order to figure out why at one time Pakistan’s best airline is now in such a shambles.

The cases against PIA in recent months include sleeping captain

Firstly, there is a case of the “sleeping pilot” on flight PK 785. The flight was on its way to London when the pilot of the flight was caught napping in the business class cabin while a “trainee” flew the plane. Amir Akhtar Hashmi was the pilot and a concerned passenger took the photo of him sleeping and complained to the crew. The report said that the passenger did not feel safe with the main pilot sleeping nearby.

The incident took place on 26th April, and there were 305 passengers onboard. Now, pilots are allowed to take breaks on long flights and this incident is not unusual because a lot of times their colleagues fly the plane. In the case of Hashmi however, he was being paid to train other pilots during flights and he chose to sleep instead. The Pakistan Air Lines Pilot Association suspended him and is undergoing an investigation.

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The Chinese woman in the cockpit

Another case is of PK 853 where a captain invited a Chinese woman in the cockpit. Captain Shahzad Aziz invited a woman in an airborne flight which is against the standard flight protocol. The flight was headed from Tokyo to Beijing and the captain gave the lady a tour of the restricted area of the plane. This was recorded on video because the woman spent 30 minutes in the cockpit while the crew was not present. It put everyone on the flight lives in danger. Some speculate that the lady was alone with the pilot for over 2 hours. The video circulating on social media is disturbing overall. PIA has launched an investigation of the matter as well but nothing concrete has come out of it yet.

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The flight which was suspected of smuggling drugs

Pakistani flight PK 785 from Islamabad to London was detained at Heathrow Airport and the British Authorities searched 14 crew members. The information to the authorities was that there were narcotics on the flight. The crew members were kept in detention for five hours. This was due to information provided to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) sources that there were narcotics on board the flight. The information further stated that narcotics were hidden in different panels of the plane and that crew members were involved in smuggling. The National Crime Agency and the UKBA agents did not find anything on the flight and released the crew members. However, the officials kept the passports of the crew which showcases that further questioning might take place.

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20kg Heroin on PIA flight

PK-785 bound to London from Islamabad was trying to smuggle 20 kilogram of Heroin in contraband which was found by Narcotic officials. The smuggler remains unknowns and the flight was cleared to fly. An official investigation has been launched into this incident as well but many are skeptical if this would yield any result. 

 The IT system collapsed 

Today, the Pakistan International Airlines’ information technology (IT) system malfunctioned which caused a wreck in the schedule of various flights. It also hauled the process of further bookings made. The IT malfunction led to a standstill of the flights system. The operational officials do not as of yet have a justification of what went wrong with the system. Many have attributed it to the virus going around relating to ransom-ware but it has not yet been confirmed.

The total loss of the flight carrier

In recent reports it came forward that the accumulated losses for the national airline have been 7.3 percent. This amounts to Rs 282.20 billion in six months. The air carrier chose to fly in loss for many international routes. It is also noted that the carrier has lost business domestically and on international airlines.

The recommendation to shut down PIA permanently has met with a lot of backlash. It is seen that the government has hired people who are incompetent to run the airline all the while drawing heavy salaries from it and enjoying privileges that they do not deserve. It also came forward that in order to avoid taxes most of the top management was being paid in US dollars in Dubai. Many from the opposition have claimed that this is just a way to privatize the airline. This act of privatization will help  the ruling party make millions which won’t be accounted for in taxes.

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While some cases have given a bad name to the national airline many deem that a restructuring might restore it to its glory days. However, with the disrespectful management it seems very unlikely until someone puts an iron fist to it all. There have been no solid results of the investigations launched against officials or captains of the PIA. All of which only points out to their lack of seriousness towards the entire fiasco. The country’s reputation has been tarnished much due to the recent allegations of drug smuggling and improper behavior during flight conduct.

We hope someone takes a serious look at it and saves the airline.

Read:Government May Restrict Internet Security After Manchester Attack

Image via Pakistan Ka Khuda Hafiz




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