PALPA-PIA row disturbs 55 scheduled flights
Pilots agreed to meet government
KARACHI: At least 55 scheduled flights of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) were disturbed during the last three days as the dispute on the working conditions between the airline management and its pilots entered third day, an airline spokesman said on Saturday.
“Due to pressure from PALPA (Pakistan Airline Pilots´ Association) so far 51 flights have been cancelled and it has affected 5,000 passengers since Thursday," spokesman for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Danyal Gilani said in a statement.
The dispute surfaced after the watchdog Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) suspended the licences of two pilots for up to two years for operating flights without its permission, he said.
“In the guise of their personal agenda, PALPA leadership is blackmailing the management to agree to unjust promotions and unjustified benefits for PALPA executives,” the spokesman said.
PALPA vice president Sadiq Rehman denied that pilots were exercising a “go slow” or observing a strike, but they were not taking on extra work and this is why the flights were cancelled.
"We are not on a strike or go slow and only following the agreement with the management," Rehman told AFP.
"Our main issue is that the management is asking one man to do the job of two, and get the salary of one and a half men. We want this to end," Rehman said.
Meanwhile, the airline pilots’ body has agreed to meet officials of the aviation division on Sunday (today) to resolve the lingering dispute, which caused a loss of billions of rupees to the ailing airline.
“It has been decided that upon the invitation received a few hours ago (on Saturday) the PALPA team will proceed to Islamabad on 4th October to meet officials of the aviation division,” a PALPA statement said. “The executive committee… has demanded that an official of the government of Pakistan must be present during the meeting to act as a guarantor.”
The statement said PALPA will discuss immediate withdrawal of all “illegal disciplinary proceedings against its member pilots.”
The meeting will also discuss the new aviation policy, PIA’s 2011/2013 working agreement with the pilots’ body and outstanding issues related to pension, medical, training and tickets.
In a related development, another PIA spokesman Amir Memon said PIA’s senior management attended a meeting with Shuja Azeem, advisor to the Prime Minister on aviation on the ongoing dispute with the pilots’ body.
Memon claimed that PIA is striving not to disrupt the Hajj operation, which should continue smoothly without any delay.
He maintained that a 95 percent of flight operation is running smoothly despite PALPA’s “threatening attitude.”
On the question of revenue, PIA spokesperson said it is premature to provide an actual figure.
The aviation watchdog, in a statement, said the PIA pilots deliberately violated the flight safety rules and disregarded the regulations of the CAA.
“All formalities of legal proceedings were followed in order to give the cockpit crew a fair chance to justify the reasons of such gross safety violations,” the statement said.
The statement said the pilots failed to justify their action and therefore “a punitive action against the air crew, as per the Civil Aviation Rules, has been imposed.”