One can only be grateful that the PIA plane that crash-landed at Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA) on Monday led to no injury or loss of life. The plane was attempting to land after turning back enroute Skardu following a malfunction in the hydraulic systems. The landing caused a tyre to burst, and it is nothing short of a miracle that the plane only damaged one engine in the collision with traffic lights off the runway.

Such incidents are perturbing; for not only is PIA incurring heavy losses, but it is also putting the lives of its crew and customers at risk. This is not the sort of business which allows for such errors to be made. The damages caused to a plane already unfit will cost PIA an(other) arm and a leg to fix, with the reported cost of each fan blade of the engine damaged above $14,000.

Faulty planes and a lacklustre response to the problem is not going to help bring any investors to the table. The national carrier needs to be privatised at the earliest possible opportunity, in order to save it from itself. Too many issues are currently taking place because of avoidable problems; this latest incident begs the question of whether the maintenance crews of PIA are really doing their jobs with the due diligence it deserves. An overstaffing problem also helps to take away from the blame, and makes it harder to identify just exactly who is responsible.

The airline’s policy of over-hiring would even be acceptable if it avoided occurrences like this crash landing, but the fact that it happened with so many employees at hand is only further proof that it is riddled with staff members that are incapable or disinterested in performing their duty.

While the damages to the plane, the bad publicity surrounding the incident and the hold-up caused by the plane at BBIA are all causes for concern, the biggest problem of what comes next for PIA is still hanging in the balance. Currently, the airline is perfectly represented by the plane that crash-landed and skidded off the runway at BBIA; its trajectory is perfectly reflective of the airline having generally lost the plot on what it means to be a business and a service delivery institution. The damages caused to the plane are similar to what the airline is doing to the national kitty. And a parallel can be drawn between the fact that the plane stopped traffic at BBIA much like the way PIA is holding the rest of the industry back by taking advantage of special treatment, but offering no special service.