Creation of a separate Aviation Division dealing with commercial air transport industry is a step in the right direction. Having taken a welcome decision, it is shocking that PML-N government has appointed a Canadian national as Advisor Aviation, who was removed from PAF. He also owns Royal Airport Services, a ground handling agency regulated by CAA. As for his administrative skills, the embarrassment caused by cancellation of interim Chairman PIA’s notification by SC should have been enough. The fact is that PIA is a statutory organisation created under PIAC Act. It is also an unfortunate reality that in recent past all appointments, contracts and administrative cum financial matters relating to PIA and CAA are not in accordance with acts of a statutory body.

Pakistan’s aviation industry has suffered failures under Ministry of Defense, from suspension by European Union, to heightened bird activity, violation of mandatory sterile zones around periphery of civil airports, appointment of vendors of ill-repute for essential spare parts procurement, creation of cartels leading to fleecing of pilgrims and reducing CAA to a welfare organization for retired uniformed officers. The anomalies and discrepancies in award of routes to foreign airlines, in violation of bilateral agreements that govern such matters, and losses to Pakistani registered airlines are self explanatory.

Pakistan has a shameful track record of poor accident investigation following fatal air crashes such as Air Blue and Bhoja Air accidents, whose next of kin still await proper compensation. A credible professional accident investigation was not achievable under present setup, nor could CAA be expected to deliver, when it owns and administers airports, navigational facilities, ATC and is also the regulator, which grants Airline Operators Certificate, Crew Licenses and Air Worthiness certification of the aircraft involved. The severity of decline in flight safety and enormity of losses incurred by this industry, are by themselves a verdict on the failure of MOD to regulate commercial aviation. The fact is that similarities between military aviation and commercial civil aviation are as diverse as between Veterinary Doctor and a Cardiologist or Oncologist. In recent past CAA Pakistan and MOD had granted permission for registration of Rayyan Air’s freighter aircraft owned by two Indian citizens, and has now given them formal permission for starting a domestic airline. Till recently this was banned by MOD to protect vital national security concerns.

MALIK TARIQ ALI,

Lahore, July 25.