LAHORE/Islamabad - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif promised that the Joint Committee (JAC) here yesterday that their point of view on the privatisation of the PIA and demands will be put before Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.
The Chief Minister who met a five-member delegation of JAC of the PIA said that rehabilitation of Pakistan International Airlines true to the motto “Bakamaal log—Lajawab service” is priority of the government and decisions to materialise this objective will be taken rising above liking and disliking and the personal interests. “PIA had been the best airline of the world in the past and government is determined to restore the national carrier to that height”, he added.
A JAC delegation was led by Chairman Sohail Baloch.
Shahbaz Sharif while talking to JAC members commended its decision of ending strike in the national interest and, added, PIA is a national institution whose protection and development is collective responsibility of all.
The CM also promised to look into the Karachi clash between the protesting PIA employees and the law-enforcement agencies wherein two employees had lost their lives and to fix responsibility for the man and material loss took place in the incident.
The meeting also offered Fateha for the departed souls of the PIA employees.
Later, talking to mediamen outside the meeting venue at Model Town, Sohail Baloch appeared satisfied with the outcome of the interaction and decision of conveying suggestions and concerns of the PIA employees to the Prime Minister.
The Committee presented 23 suggestions to the CM which also included closure of the routes which were causing losses to the institution, halting the privatisation for one year and providing more planes as per commitment.
The Chief Minister was much concerned over the billions of rupees losses which the PIA was facing every day and also the financial loss came about through the recent strike of the PIA employees.
The CM said that if the JAC was opposed to privatisation of the airlines, it should present viable suggestions whereof the national carrier can stand back on its feet and become profitable institution shining with the glory of the past.
As per sources, the JAC assured the CM of full cooperation in rehabilitation of PIA, end to political intervention in its affairs and action against the corrupt and inefficient officers in the department.
The JAC suggested for shutting down 18 domestic routes which were incurring loss and for giving bailout as breather to the airlines. It also wanted no action against the officers and persons who were serving the PIA.
On the other hand, the Chief Minister questioned whether any airline anywhere in the world can operate with such a heavy burden of losses and debts.
However, he said, no government would like to shift its airline to private hands if it was giving profit and did not burden the national exchequer.
And the government will also reverse the decision if a practicable formula is presented to make a PIA profitable institution.
Provincial Minister for Law Rana Sanaullah, Chief Secretary Khizar Hayat Gondal and concerned officials were also present on the occasion.
Meanwhile, PIA has restored the entire domestic and international flights operation, spokesman said on Wednesday.
In a statement PIA spokesman said the passengers can go to the airports according to their schedule, adding that PIA apologises for the inconvenience caused to valued passengers during the last eight days.
Meanwhile, PIA has reduced fares on domestic and major International flights, including Umrah fares, to stabilise unrealistic hike in fares and to facilitate customers.
Fares on Karachi-Islamabad-Karachi and Karachi-Lahore-Karachi would now be starting from 7,500 rupees while return tickets for Umrah would start from 54,500 rupees for passengers from Lahore/Islamabad and 44,500 rupees for passengers from Karachi.
The reduction in fares comes a day after the Joint action Committee (JAC) of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) employees announced the end of its strike against proposed privatisation of the national flag carrier and asked employees to resume flight operations across the country with immediate effect.
The National Assembly on January 21 witnessed the passage of six bills, including one to convert the national flag carrier into a public limited company.