PIA offers voluntary separation scheme to employees

Plan to benefit 3,200 workers at a cost of Rs12.87b


Waqas Ahmed September 23, 2020
PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Wednesday introduced a voluntary separation scheme (VSS) for its employees in order to lower its deficit and curtail its expenses.

National flag carrier’s Chief Executive Officer Arshad Malik maintained that no airline in the world can survive with 14,500 employees and a deficit of Rs400 billion as well as liabilities of more than Rs100 billion.

Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Aviation, Malik noted that the VSS had been introduced for the additional employees of the organisation. The airline staff would be able to benefit from this scheme voluntarily.

The committee was also briefed about current aircraft-to-employee ratio as a comparison between various international airlines and the PIA.

The panel was told that Qatar Airlines owned 240 passenger planes and employed 32,000 people with an aircraft-to-employee ratio of 133; Emirates 269 passenger planes and 62,000 employees with a ratio of 231; Turkish Airlines 329 passenger planes and 31,000 employees with a ratio of 94; Etihad Airlines 102 passenger planes and 21,530 employees with an aircraft-to-employee ratio of 211 employees while the PIA owned 29 aircraft and had a strength 14,500 employees, which stood at a ratio of 500 employees per aircraft.

The body was told that overstaffing was one of the main reasons that the national airline was facing a huge deficit.

It was further said that if loans of Rs500 billion are minus from the PIA’s balance sheet, a prominent change would be visible.

Malik observed that the national carrier faced a deficit of Rs400 billion and liabilities of Rs100 billion.

The committee was told that the VSS would benefit 3,200 employees at a cost of Rs12.87 billion and reduce the annual salaries by Rs4.2 billion.

The panel was informed that steps were being taken to lower the deficit of national flag carrier and that its audit was complete and 97% of the compliance report was received.

Meanwhile, the PIA CEO said that due to the special efforts of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the national flag carrier was able to get a special permit to operate another 21 flights to Saudi Arabia. The PIA is the only airline that has been able to acquire the permit.

Malik had apprised the premier about the difficulties faced by the Pakistanis travelling to Saudi Arabia and requested him to play his role in this regard.

The PIA had started its bookings from September 15 after being granted the permission but due to the work permit of some Pakistanis expiring on September 30, unusual rush was witnessed at the national flag carrier’s offices and at some travel agencies.

Few travel agents took advantage of the situation and raised the price of the air tickets exorbitantly.

Malik took notice of the matter and sought permission to operate more flights to Saudi Arabia. However, the Saudi authorities allowed 13 flights out of the 28 requested.

But after the intervention of the premier, PIA was granted permission to operate another 21 flights.

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