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PIA itself responsible for its huge losses: SC

05 December, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Tuesday remarked that in all the departments of the national flag carrier, the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), including catering, repair, engineering and maintenance, recruitment is being made on the recommendation of influential people, adding that the airline is itself responsible for the losses incurred to it.

The chief justice said that even on the international flights, airhostesses, crew, pilots and co-pilots are employed on recommendation of influential people. A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by CJ Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, heard suo moto case against irregularities in the PIA as well as a constitutional petition, filed by PML-N leader Marvi Memon, seeking direction of the court to probe into the affairs of the national flag carrier, and to ascertain corruption and mismanagement on the part of the organisation.

During the hearing, to a court query, Babar Kamal of Engineering Department informed the court that only three percent staff of the national flag carrier is inducted on merit, while the maximum workers in the Airlines were on urban and rural quota.

At this, the chief justice remarked that in all the departments of PIA, people were employed on the recommendation of influential people.

Justice Iftikhar held the management of PIA responsible for the huge losses incurred by the organisation. "You are all responsible for the huge losses and the court will give judgement in the instant case," he remarked.

The court expressed concern over the absence of managing director. However, Shahnawaz Rehman, Director HR Department, informed the court about the financial position of the airlines. He said according to the financial statement, there is $1billion loan on PIA, while $565 million is due to the lease of planes. He said that there are around 20,000 employees in PIA.

On the court query, the PIA official said that on an average, staff of 450 was working on one plane, while in other airlines this ratio is 150-200 per plane. Justice Azmat said overhead expenditures were relatively higher than other airlines. The chief justice said that hardly 20-22 aircraft are operating, while 75 percent are on unscheduled grounding. However, the director engineering said that out of 38 total planes, nine are on unscheduled grounding.

When the CJ asked for suggestions to improve the performance of the national flag carrier, Director HR PIA replied that hard work, honesty and truthfulness is earnestly required for the improvement of the organisation.

Earlier, appearing before the court in person, Marvi Memon submitted that she had filed the petition as passengers' rights under Article 9, 14, 15, 18 and 25 were being violated. She said that this petition was unique, as besides herself and Zafar Iqbal Jhagra, 25 passengers signed the petition in midair. She said that in the recent incident His Lordship, the CJP, was a witness to it.

"Don't make me a witness in this case," the CJP asked Memon in a lighter vein. Marvi said that Ahmed Mukhtar was also a respondent in the instant case, adding that he had recently admitted in a TV talk show mismanagement in the organisation.

The CJ further observed that there was a time when people used to take pride in travelling by PIA. However, due to mismanagement, inefficiency and lack of commitment on the part of the management, the organisation suffered a huge loss. Raja Abdur Rehman Abbasi, Senior Legal Adviser of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) was also present in the courtroom. Later, the court adjourned the hearing till December 14.

End.

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