In the latest in the series of mishaps, PIA’s PK788, on its way to Karachi from London was grounded for over 18 hours at Heathrow airport on Monday due to a technical fault. Over 300 passengers remained stranded.

In light of these consistent and disturbing errors and catastrophes, the board members of PIA called a meeting on Tuesday to discuss possible privatisation. The organisation is no longer fit to be run the way it is, no matter the pride of being a national carrier. The liability that it has become to the Pakistani people and the state must be written off, and privatisation seems the best way forward. The sad fact is that it may be too late. The brand has lost more and more of its value after the ATR crash, and there will be minor gains for the state to make from privatisation.

The problems of the national carrier are multifarious. A mere seven months after his appointment, the Chairman of PIA, Azam Saigol resigned citing personal reasons. Finding a new chairman just seven months after the previous one resigned will not be easy – at least one that is diligent and is looking to drag the national carrier out of the free fall it currently finds itself in.

The government has tried everything, and for this it should be commended. A new premium service was launched, a more active response on social media, new wet leases for additional planes to add to the fleet and a greater degree of interest into the future of the airline are all worthy attempts. But this is exactly why the situation should be handed over to an objective party, one that can take the most difficult decisions – those that the government cannot take – such as decreasing the enormous number of people currently working at PIA, with a staggering 391 employees (without counting daily staffers) to a plane ratio, making it the second worst airline in the world in terms of staffing. The national carrier was going to be a hard sell before, but with the latest incidents, it might be near impossible to draw any lucrative investors to take over, especially with problems such as overstaffing and faulty airplanes.

There is a reason for 75 percent of the world’s airlines being privately-owned. It is time for the government to hand over the reins to a party that is singularly focused on fixing the airline. The safety and satisfaction of passengers and economic sustainability must come before the job security of the employees. This was always a hard truth to digest by PIA and the state, but maybe now it is time to swallow the bitter pill.