KARACHI: Loss-making Pakistan International Airlines is looking to reduce its aircraft to employee ratio to 220 employees per aircraft in 2022 from the current ratio of 260 employees, it said on Monday.
“The employee to aircraft ratio has been brought down to 260 from the level of 550 employees per aircraft in the year 2017,” the airline said in a statement. “This reduction in employees has brought PIA at par with international aviation industry standards.”
PIA had cut its workforce over 50 percent since 2017, when the workforce strength stood at around 16,500. “PIA reforms in human resources pay off with positive results, and the airline has been successful in bringing down the HR numbers to achieve savings of Rs8 billion per year.”
The statement said reform process will continue and more aircraft are being added to the fleet, which will improve the quality of PIA's service. PIA is looking to increase its fleet from 31 aircrafts to 35. “With the induction of aircraft, this year in PIA fleet would further bring down the number to 220 employees per aircraft.” The airline has a current strength of 8,156 regular workers.
The reduction in work force was due to voluntary separation scheme (VSS), fake degree holders and employees terminated on disciplinary grounds. Some 1900 employees opted for voluntary separation scheme, 837 employees were terminated on fake degrees while 1,100 employees were terminated on disciplinary grounds. “Around 800 to 900 people have also been retiring every year,” it dded.
The loss-making carrier has been looking to reduce costs, particularly to minimize the impact of the pandemic. PIA’s move comes as other airlines globally cut costs sharply amid travel restrictions and a collapse in global air travel during the pandemic.
The PIA is looking to have fewer than 5,500 people working on 45 aircraft - or fewer than 125 employees per aircraft. The government approved Rs12.87 billion in funding for the airline in 2020 to move forward on the voluntary retirement scheme.
Last week the International Civil Aviation Organization said Pakistan’s civil aviation regulator has resolved significant safety concerns that arose from a 2020 scandal over fake pilot licences. The government grounded 262 airline pilots in June 2020 after they were suspected of cheating on mandatory licence tests - a scandal that tainted PIA, which European and US aviation regulators barred from their territories.
PIA incurred a loss of Rs34.6 billion in the financial year 2020. The losses were heavier in 2019 – at Rs56.03 billion. PIA is yet to share annual financial results of the financial year 2021.