LAHORE - Palpa has been on strike for the past three days, disrupting schedule of 60 flights besides costing billions of rupees to the national exchequer.

Palpa has been blamed for influencing promotion process – even in the cases where pilot has failed to meet proficiency requirements or has poor track record.

Although Palpa agreement clearly states that pilots with less than two years of service remaining will not be promoted to highly sophisticated aircraft flight because of high cost of training, the association wants to brought into the PIA fleet one of its blue-eyed, an pilot said on anonymity.

He said the airline management has already promoted three pilots who had two years of service remaining.

The ongoing tussle between PIA administration and Palpa grew after two of its pilots Iftikhar Kaleem and Zahid Barola violated CAA rules and regulations.

Moreover, hiring of pilots aged above 60 on contract by the PIA Director of Flight Operations added fuel to fire as there exists a surplus of pilots in PIA with over 700 on payroll while only 18 PIA-owned aircraft are serviceable. The director will be retiring in December.

The Director Flight Operations has allegedly given leave without pay to numerous B777-rated pilots who are either serving in other airlines or residing in Canada fulfilling immigration requirements – further making shortage more acute on that equipment and desisting from promoting juniors.

The salary and flying allowance increases manifold with years of service.

Any excess is only economically viable on highly sophisticated plane ie B777-rated pilots, from where retirements usually occur due to attrition, but since management is dominated by seniors, the excess is kept on lowest equipment.

Responsibility to adhere to limitations contained in caa rules, air navigation orders, personnel licensing manual and safety circulars rests solely with holder of license, who is entitled to exercise privileges of license and related rating subject to medical fitness, and within limitations specified by the CAA.

The flight duty time limitations specified in any Palpa agreement are agreed between employer PIA and pilots through negotiations, for financial remuneration and nobody, including airline operator or licence holder can exceed state regulatory limitations.

Palpa agreement only specifies that “overtime will be paid for two pilot operation if total duty time exceeds 10 hours - one hour before scheduled departure and 30 minutes after arrival of flight – while three pilots operation is for planned duty time up to 12 hours with overtime paid for duty above 11 hours, while four pilot operation is required for planned duty above 12 hours.

Palpa fresh demands include almost 100% hike in salaries.

The contradiction in Palpa’s demand is that on one hand they are demanding that CAA’s suspension of licences for duty exceeding over 16 hours from blocks off to blacks on be waived, while it uses flight safety as an excuse to refuse flights of PALPA flight duty time of 10 hours, which according to CAA definition is only 8 Hours and 30 Minutes.