LAHORE - Though the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet has approved the lease of five A-320 aircraft to be inducted in Pakistan International Airlines fleet but the question is that will this step change the fate of the airline facing monthly loss of about Rs. 5 billion?

A senior PIA officer, on condition of not to be named, said that the federal government was not clear to take decision regarding PIA since on one side there was plan of privatisation while on the other hand new aircraft were being allowed to be purchased.

Secretary Aviation Muhammad Ali Gardezi had informed the ECC that release of Rs.12.7 billion after a decision taken by cabinet committee on July 12, PIA was able to add six additional aircraft, which raised the number of operational aircraft from 20 to 26. This, he said, had increased schedule integrity with no complaints of delay during Haj operations. The operation was smooth after many years. The secretary aviation also informed ECC that the loss of PIA had reduced from Rs.3.3 billion to Rs.1.5 billion last month.

But as per third quarter report of PIA from July to September 2013 loss was Rs. 13.58 billions which reflects that there was monthly loss of airline more than Rs. 4.5 billion.

The PIA management stated that improvement in performance, service and financial health of PIA was a result of the regular financial support and continued oversight by the present government.

The national airline PIA has total accumulated losses of over Rs169 billion as of June 2103, while its liabilities grossly exceed its assets, forcing external auditors Messer Ferguson to repeatedly mention this for almost four consecutive years when signing quaterly reports with following comments: “Material uncertainty exists that may cast significant doubt on corporation’s ability to continue as a going concern and, therefore may be unable to realize its assets and discharge its liabilities in the normal course of business”.

The decision by federal government to create a separate Aviation Division, totally independent from administrative control of Ministry of Defense is a wise step, given PIA’s fall from an airline of repute to an airline of disrepute, while under the MOD. However the mere creation of a separate Aviation Division headed by an independent Federal Secretary, alone cannot bear any fruit, unless the culture of cronyism, nepotism, indiscipline and massive irregularities, with an executive corridor dominated by mediocrity, and vested conflicts of interest, is not surgically cleansed of the rot that dominates the working of this national asset.

Another senior PIA officer said that purchase of new planes was mentioned in agreement between IMF and PIA wherein it was pledged that privatization process of the airline would be continued and new planes would also be inducted in PIA fleet.