KARACHI: Chief Executive Officer Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Air Marshal Arshad Mahmood Malik has said that the monthly operational losses have been reduced to Rs1.5 billion as compared to more than Rs3 billion suffered by the airline every month when he assumed charge of the national flag carrier.
“The reduction in operational losses became possible only due to day-night efforts of PIA team, comprising of those officers who have been working at PIA since last many years but a lot more still needs to be done to deal with PIA’s liabilities as whatever is being earned by the airline is mostly spent on debt servicing”, he added while speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Tuesday.
Chairman Businessmen Group & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, General Secretary BMG AQ Khalil, President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, Senior Vice President Arshad Islam, Vice President Shahid Ismail, Former Presidents Haroon Agar, Shamim Ahmed Firpo and Junaid Makda along with KCCI Managing Committee Members were also present at the meeting.
CEO PIA informed that PIA has a fleet of 31 aircrafts, of which 23 aircrafts were able to fly but now 29 aircrafts are in the air and only two aircrafts were on the ground due to dedicated efforts of PIA’s staff particularly its engineering team. In order to expand the existing fleet, PIA has leased an aircraft (A-320) from its own resources, which will landing on November 14 while another aircraft will also arrive in December this year and three to five wide-body aircrafts will also be added next year which would certainly facilitate those members of the business community intending to take direct flights to Canada and London.
He was of the opinion that PIA has the potential to grow but unfortunately due to poor policies and management style, the issues being faced by the airline were largely ignored during the last 10 to 12 years, which resulted in overstaffing and excessive liabilities.
All the policies and decisions were dictated in the past but not anymore, as all the decisions are now purely taken by the management keeping in view the business and commercial viability. “Prime Minister Imran Khan has assured that whatever is recommended by PIA will be prioritized in the lager interest of the country which has never happened before while during a Cabinet Meeting, the Prime Minister also categorically stated that any individual found in interfering in PIA’s affairs will be facing strict action”, he added.
Referring to PIA’s cargo operation, he said that only 20 percent of the available capacity was being airlifted which has now been improved to 80 percent because of business community’s cooperation. “The airline needs support and we will drop our cargo rates as compared to the market rates if people choose to avail PIA’s cargo facility”, he added.
Highlighting PIA’s Hajj Operations 2019, he said that it was for the very first time that the entire Hajj Operation was solely carried out by PIA in which a total of 83,000 pilgrims were facilitated without leasing any aircraft as practiced in the past while Sukkur and Quetta stations were also operational for Hajj Pilgrims this year.
He also directed the concerned PIA Official to make arrangements for signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Karachi Chamber by next Monday for setting up a PIA Office at KCCI’s premises which would provide extra services and facilities to the business community.
Appreciating Chairman BMG Siraj Kassam Teli for always vocally speaking the truth in front of everyone, he said that the country was in dire need of such honest, truthful and sincere people and the suggestions given by Chairman BMG to improve PIA’s performance were a beacon for him.
Speaking on the occasion, Chairman BMG & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli underscored that PIA must enhance the number of aircrafts and destinations, particularly its direct flights to Canada, London, New York and Beijing etc. with all the required facilities in order to facilitate the frequent travelers and members of the business & industrial community which would surely improve the revenue of the national flag carrier.
To deal with PIA’s financial crises, he suggested to carry out the evaluation of number of employees per seat as it was a well-known fact that PIA was an overstaffed institution mainly due to politically affiliated recruitments in the past. “You cannot expel them but this useless and incompetent workforce must be sidelined having no involvement in PIA’s affairs which would surely help in improving PIA’s performance and the CEO will have to take immediate decisions in this regard otherwise these employees would continue to create hindrances”, he added.
Siraj Teli stressed that as discipline is the first step on the road to success, PIA must strictly adhere to this aspect while the positive changes including reduction in number of employees, downfall in operational losses and acquisition of any new aircraft must be publicized so that the people could see the improvements.
“You have to create some ways and means along with linkages to ensure that anyone misguiding you is exposed which would save your precious time as well as the institution”, he added.
He was of the opinion that a lot can be done by PIA to promote tourism in Pakistan and in this regard, PIA needs to improve its flights’ schedule in coordination with travel agents. “The strategy should be defined in such a manner that it creates a win-win situation PIA and the travel agents”, he said, adding that prosperity for PIA would ensure prosperity for the entire country.
While suggesting to open a PIA Office at KCCI to facilitate the business and industrial community, Chairman BMG assured that the Karachi Chamber will always be at PIA’s service and ready to promote PIA through its monthly publication and official website. KCCI’s Research & Development Department can also help PIA in any research work. “It’s about time that PIA must change now as it is very painful for us to see so much problems at the national flag carrier.”
Earlier President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, in his welcome address, pointed out that PIA had a very splendid past back in 60s and 70s when the airline was booming and it was even providing trainings to other airlines but unfortunately with the passage of time, PIA’s performance continued to decline and was facing severe financial crises and the overstaffing issues. “We have to look at the entire timeline and analyze what went wrong during this period and accordingly take steps to make PIA a profitable organization”, he added.
He underscored that PIA must expand its direct flights particularly to those destinations where majority of the Pakistanis were inhabiting including Canada, London, and numerous countries in the gulf region, besides revisiting all its air-routes. Steps have to be taken to make PIA a profitable institution which is possible by curtailing the expenditures and excessive staff of the national flag carrier.