ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Thursday stopped the government from privatising Pakistan International Airlines and decided to form a commission to probe the causes of its Rs 360.39 billion losses and handing over of profitable routes to other airlines.

The top court also appointed economic analyst Dr Farrukh Saleem as amicus curiae and gave him two weeks to set the terms of references (ToRs) for the proposed commission.

The SC also ruled no decision regarding privatisation of the PIA could be made without taking it into confidence. The top court further directed the managing directors who served the PIA during last 10 years to furnish an undertaking that they would not leave the country until completion of the case. The top court, however, ruled departure of any of the MDs abroad would be subject to its permission.

The directions were given after the top court’s three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan briefly heard the case regarding handing over of profitable routes of the Pakistan International Airlines to other airlines and its expected privatisation.

In pursuance of the top court’s earlier order, all the persons who held the post of MD in last 10 years were present in the courtroom.

Advocate Ahmed Rauf, who was representing PIA, submitted a balance sheet of last 10 years before the bench, in which it was revealed that the PIA suffered accumulated loss of Rs 360.39 billion since 2000 till date.

According to the balance sheet of PIA covering the last 10 years, the national flag carrier suffered loss of Rs 36.13 billion in 2008, Rs 4.94 billion in 2009, Rs 20.79 billion in 2010 and Rs 26.77 billion in 2011. The balance sheet further revealed that the national flag carrier suffered loss of Rs 30.59 billion in 2012, Rs 44.32 billion in 2013 and Rs 31.74 billion in 2014. Likewise, the national airline suffered loss of Rs 32.53 billion in 2015, Rs 45.38 billion in 2016 and Rs 44.11 billion in 2017.

The details regarding the management heads who served the PIA during last 10 years were also submitted before the bench. Zafar A Khan held the post of chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of PIA from April 2007 to February 2008, Aslam R Khan held the post of managing director (MD) from February 2008 to May 2008. Likewise, Capt Muhammad Aijaz Haroon was MD from May 2008 to February 2011, Capt Nadeem Khan Yousafzai held this post from February 2011 to March 2012, Air Chief Marshal (r) Rao Qamar Suleman remained MD, chairman and CEO from March 2012 to September 2012, Capt Muhammad Junaid Yunus assumed the charge of MD in October 2012 and retained the office till July 2014, Shahnawaz Rehman held the post of MD from July 2014 to August 2015, Nasser NS Jaffer held the post of chairman and CEO from August 2015 to February 2016 and Aviation Secretary Muhammad Irfan Elahi acted as chairman for two months in 2016.

On the disclosure of losses in the national flag carrier, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, expressing his concern, warned the court would not spare anyone while those responsible would have to bear the losses, adding nothing had been done to control losses despite the fact that the MDs were drawing salaries in millions of rupees.

Advocate Ahmed Rauf said those who ruined the national asset were oppressors, enemies of the country and traitors, adding all the advisers of PIA had no experience in this field. He affirmed the PIA, as a public limited company, was being run at par with corporate rules and the government owned its 96 percent shares. He stated there was no plan of its privatisation.

He, however, admitted other airlines all over the world earned profits when the petroleum prices in international markets decreased, but the PIA failed to achieve anything in terms of profit.

When asked about bettering the airline and fixing the responsibilities, the counsel tried to blame the courts of law and said only jurisdiction was the problem. He explained 916 cases were pending in different courts. He further elaborated nothing had been done except issuing show-cause notices because the aggrieved parties sought stay orders from the courts.

The counsel further contended there was no concept of selling out routes; rather there were service agreements between the countries. He said New York landing was closed because the operating loss was Rs 17 billion in six months and more profit could be earned if the same planes were shifted to alternate routes. He, however, said the PIA possessed the landing rights.

Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali informed the bench the Council of Common Interest (CCI) had approved privatisation, but even after it the government would hold its 51 percent shares. He, however, categorically stated no step had so far been initiated for the privatisation of PIA.

 

 

SC stops govt from privatising PIA