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February 8, 2016

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Despite strike, PIA planes take to the air

Despite strike, PIA planes take to the air

Two flights bring 725 Umra pilgrims home; Rs2.5 bn loss occurred during protests; PIA action body chairman says govt playing with lives; if PM doesn’t listen to employees, ‘someone else’ will

ISLAMABAD: Despite strikes and a protest by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) employees, flight operation of the national flag carrier resumed on Sunday as two PIA flights carrying 725 Umrah pilgrims from Jeddah landed at the Benazir International Airport Islamabad.

The first flight PK 7330 carried 400 passengers while the second flight PK 760 carried 325 passengers.Meanwhile, a PIA plane carried passengers from Islamabad to Gilgit while another flight airlifted passengers from Gilgit to Islamabad.

Flights PK 4232 and PK 605 departed for Abu Dhabi and Gilgit from Islamabad airport on Sunday morning, while flights PK 4231 and 606 arrived at Islamabad airport from Abu Dhabi and the Gilgit and Jeddah-Islamabad flight PK 7330 landed at the airport around 2:37pm, flight data shows.

The government has appreciated the commitment of PIA staff to their country.Although the PIA employees’ Joint Action Committee (JAC) has resolved to continue their protest against the government’s plans to privatise the national flag carrier, PIA spokesman Daniyal Gilani says flight operations are partially on and is optimistic they will pick up in the coming week.

PIA is doing its best to look after its passengers and feels profoundly sorry for the inconvenience caused to all PIA passengers due to the illegal strike, the spokesman said.Daniyal Gilani informed the media about a loss of Rs2.5 billion due to the strike to date. He added that the PIA staff returning to duty is being welcomed and provided ample security.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of PIA employees, Captain Sohail Baloch, warned of marching towards the Jinnah Terminal on Monday if the ‘missing employees’ were not found.

Speaking to media representatives in Karachi, he said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should not make PIA an issue of his ego and called for immediately initiating a dialogue in view of what he termed was the hardship being faced by people due to the closure of flight operations.

He said if the premier chose not to listen to the employees of PIA, then ‘someone else’ will, adding that the government was playing with the lives of the employees.Sohail Baloch said the workers of PIA have put everything at stake and now the privatisation of the national flag carrier will not be accepted at any cost. — Agencies

Muhammad Saleh Zaafir adds: PIA will be able to operate more than 50 percent of its operations from today (Monday) as it operated over a dozen domestic and international flights on Sunday.

Aviation sources told The News that the Sindh administration is not extending cooperation in restoring the operation and is supporting subversive elements. It is causing difficulty in restoring operation from Karachi. Despite that it is expected that about 75 percent operation would be restored within two days, the sources added.

Four flights were operated from Lahore as three planes took off for Jeddah and one for Madina Munawarrah.The PIA spokesman also clarified that some media reports regarding imposition of fine on the two PIA flights in Saudi Arabia were not correct. The amount being mentioned in the media was paid as fee to local aviation authorities for getting extra slot for these special flights operated by the airline, he added.

The spokesman said keeping in view the difficulties being faced by Umra pilgrims stranded in Saudi Arabia due to the ongoing strike by PIA unions, the two Boeing 777 planes were sent to Jeddah to bring back them.

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