ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that management of the Pakistan International Airline is actually responsible for the huge losses incurred by the airline.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was hearing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Marvi Memon’s petition that sought direction to investigate into the affairs of the PIA in depth to identify corruption, mismanagement, inefficiencies and lack of competent staff.

Hearing the petition, the Chief Justice inquired from the PIA officials how could they make the PIA vibrant and profit-earning airline? When the officials failed to give satisfactory reply the CJP said: “No one else except the management itself is responsible for the PIA losses.” The CJP asked the PIA officials to seek instructions from the top management how it would control the colossal expenses, adding; “It is not a rocket science to control the losses.”

The court expressed concern over the absence of Managing Director. However, Director HR department PIA and Director Engineering briefed the court about the Airline. The Director HR said according to the financial statement of the flag-carrier there is $1billion loan on PIA, while $565 million is due to the lease of the planes. He said around 20,000 employees are working in the PIA.

The court repeatedly inquired from the Director HR how many appointments in the PIA have been made on the chits. But the director avoided to give straight answer. Justice Azmat Saeed asked him don’t talk in ‘if’ and ‘but’ and only be afraid of Allah.

Director Engineering department PIA Babar Kamal told the court that only 3 per cent staff inducted on merit, while the maximum workers in the Airline are on urban and rural quota from all over the country. Upon that the Chief Justice remarked that in all the departments from catering, repair, engineering and maintenance and even on the international flights the airhostesses, crew, pilots and co-pilots are employed on recommendations.

On the court query the PIA official told that on one plane 450 staff working, while in other countries the ratio is 150 to 200 employees on one plane. Justice Azmat said overhead expenditures are relatively higher than other airlines. The chief justice said that hardly 20 to 22 planes are operational, while the 75 per cent are on unscheduled grounding. However, the director engineering said out of 38 total planes 9 are on unscheduled grounding.

Marvi Memon, petitioner, informed the court that she had filed the application as passengers’ rights are violated under Article 9, 14, 15, 18 and 25 violated. She said that this petition is unique, as besides herself and Zafar Iqbal Jhagra 25 passengers signed the petition mid air on the PIA plane. She said in the recent incident the lordship (CJP) is also witness to it. The Chief Justice asked her don’t make me witness to this case.

Marvi said the massive mismanagement, corruption and nepotism has destroyed the PIA. The chief justice remarked once PIA had 46 planes and now it has only 26, adding the PIA used to earn lot of money as it was taking money for touching or the berth of planes, which now avail this facilities in Dubai.

The chief justice said that they have understood the whole case and now they would pass order. The CJP, however, gave an opportunity to the PIA to find out ways to improve the situation itself and adjourned the hearing till 14th December.