ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered aviation authorities to restructure the cash-strapped national flag carrier PIA which is making losses worth USD 3.68 million per month, according to an official statement.
Khan said this while presiding over a meeting on the aviation sector on Monday in the backdrop of the recent Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crash in Karachi that claimed 98 lives.
"Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the country''s economy is facing difficulties and the people have had to bear the burden of billions of rupees loss on a monthly basis suffered by the state-owned entities," he said.
PIA’s Chief Executive Officer Air Marshal Arshad Malik gave a detailed briefing on the prevailing situation of the PIA, saying that it was suffering a loss of USD 3.68 million per month.
Malik said USD 14 million was being spent yearly on the payment of salaries to the PIA’s 14,500 employees alone.
He said litigation was one of the hurdles in the way of reform of the PIA as employees seek court orders to stay reforms and the legal processes linger on for years.
Malik said that he too could not perform his duties for three months out of his 16 months tenure due to a case against his appointment. “Due to such issues, the reforms process in the organisation has badly suffered,” he added.
The prime minister was also apprised that during the last 12 years, the PIA had 10 chiefs.
According to an official press release, the prime minister asked the PIA to bring down the expenditures and focus on increasing its income and upgrading its fleet.
He also directed to utilise the huge domestic and foreign assets of the PIA through a complete transparent and clear manner.
“The assets should create financial resources for the organisation instead of becoming a burden on the general public,” he said.
The meeting was attended by Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Minister for Information Senator Shibli Faraz, Adviser on Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain, Special Assistant retired Lt Gen Asim Salim Bajwa and other senior officials.
A timeline for restructuring of the PIA and a comprehensive roadmap over reforms and implementation was also submitted before the prime minister.
It was the first meeting on aviation after the recent PIA plane crash in Karachi and the CEO also apprised about the progress about investigation into the crash and other relevant issues.
The PIA has been running into huge financial losses. For years, the airlines has only been adding billions to its loss sheets.
The PIA faced a huge loss worth Rs 180 million (USD 1.1 million) during 2016-27, according to Pakistani media reports.