Why no chants of accountability of PIA Pilots? by Noon Meem Laam

We as a nation are fixated with politicians and political parties. There are many holy cows in the country like the Armed Forces, Judiciary, Media big guns, some industrialists and many other professionals who are chosen to be ignored by our intelligentsia and “civil society”.  One reason for the deliberate ignorance can be that they belong to the same privileged classes. One such group of holy cows that remain scot free are PIA Pilots. The PIA Pilots have a Pakistan Airline Pilots Association (PALPA) which at very regular intervals chooses to arm twist the PIA management into meeting their demands. How they do so is by employing tactics of “go-slow”.

A go-slow employed by PIA Pilots is causing a loss to PIA and passengers

The PIA Pilots have been going slow for the last 9 days in which many flights have been delayed or cancelled. Off course, such tactics are not improvement of the organization but for meeting of their personal demands. These include matters regarding pensions, tickets, allowances and duty hours. Pilots can legally refuse to fly if they claim to be unfit and this is exactly what they are doing.

According to a report in Express Tribune, flight cancellations have caused a loss of over Rs. 1 billion to PIA while the mental agony to passengers has no price. Some passengers missed flights and were risked with prospects of losing their jobs. Some had onward connections while some had emergencies.

Will our civil society choose to call for accountability of PIA pilots? Will members of the media (especially a lady anchor from GEO, whose father has been a president of PALPA on a few occasions) who has done programs on the Airblue tragedy, do programs highlighting the tactics of go-slow by the PALPA?

Will our judges take suo-moto of this loss to national assets and call the PALPA to court?

I guess not! It is only politicians who will face accountability. No one else.

Passengers protest after cancellation of flights

Dawn, August 2, 2010

RAWALPINDI, Aug 1: Hundreds of PIA passengers seeking to travel to London, Saudi Arabia and Dubai staged protests after their flights were cancelled because of what the airline said a ‘goslow’ by Pakistan Air Line Pilots’ Association (Palpa).

Passengers of PIA flights PK-785 (for London), PK-212 (for Dubai) and PK-741 (for Saudi Arabia) protested on Sunday first on the airport premises and later on the main road following the cancellation of their flights after captains and first officers refused to operate the flights after several hours of delay.

Witnesses said that passengers of PK-741 staged a protest outside the airport, saying the cancellation of their flight would affect their jobs. They shouted slogans against the airline. A senior police official quoted the passengers as saying that their visas would expire after midnight.

Later, the traffic police arrived on the scene and convinced the protesting passengers to hold talks with authorities concerned to get their problem resolved.

The road was later cleared after the protesters called off their protest. The passengers were shifted to different hotels by the airline.

Meanwhile, a PIA spokesman said in a press release on Sunday that the “illegal goslow” of Palpa had entered the ninth day as 13 captains and first officers refused to operate scheduled flights, causing an estimated loss of over Rs1 billion to the national flag carrier.

He said flight PK-308 (Karachi-Islamabad) was operated by PIA Managing Director Captain Muhammad Aijaz Haroon and Director Flight Operations Captain Shuja Naqvi while 10 other flights were operated by pilots of the management.

He said the “illegal goslow” and refusal by Palpa pilots to operate fights affected 15 flights and five domestic and international flights had to be cancelled.

The spokesman claimed that the management, over the last two weeks, had repeatedly requested Palpa representatives to hold talks with them to resolve the issue, but they had refused.

Talking to Dawn on Sunday, Palpa President Captain Sohail Baloch said they had gone on a go-slow because the PIA management was not following the Working Agreement which was related to Palpa staff’s salaries, allowances and other perks.

Another demand of Palpa, he said, was that it wanted the Air Navigation Order to be revised, adding that under the order Palpa members had to perform 12-hour duties, giving them little time for rest.

He said the ministry of defence had called a meeting of Palpa representatives and PIA management on Monday.



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