FAISALABAD   -   A comprehensive strategy has been evolved for revival of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and turning it into a profitable entity, said Air Marshal (r) Arshad Mahmood Malik, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the PIA.

In his first public address at Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) here on Monday, he said that the short-term plan will ensure smooth functioning of PIA while in long term the organisation would be revived on permanent basis within next 3-5 years.

He termed it a daunting challenge to revive PIA as compared to the establishment of a new airline. “However, I shall try to accomplish this task with national commitment and service to Pakistan”, he claimed. He said that he has a privilege to be a part of the PAF and is utilizing its support to revive the national flag carrier. He said that he had visited Turkey to review the revival of Turkish Airlines. Similarly, he has also reviewed the Qatar Model while in coming days, he will visit Malaysia and other countries to personally analyze and discuss revival plans of their national airlines.

Air Marshal (r) Arshad Mahmood Malik revealed that the PIA is currently suffering loss of Rs3 billion per month. “It has 32 aircrafts out of which only 6 are revenue generating”, he informed and disclosed that nine planes which are in working condition have been abandoned for the last 9 months due to unknown reasons. Air Marshal (r) Arshad Mahmood Malik said that 18,000 workers are at the payroll of PIA. “Although their numbers are in excess as per prescribed yardstick but they could be utilized by getting more aeroplanes for future operations”, he argued.

He also mentioned about seven loss-making PIA routes and said that this loss making organisation had 36 offices of labour unions out of which he could close only 10 offices so far. “I have no link with any political party and am answerable to Pakistan and Allah Almighty only”, he declared. The PIA CEO informed that he will address a press conference in Islamabad tomorrow to present more statistics about the present situation of the national flag carrier.

He said that his first priority is to get rid of loss-making routes while in later phase, more remedial steps would be taken to revive it on permanent basis. Responding to a question, the PIA chairman that three direct flights from Faisalabad to Jeddah will be launched from February 15 while two separate high level teams will visit FCCI next week to review expansion in the existing runway and evaluate its cargo potential. He also offered FCCI to purchase a cargo plane to start first PIA cargo service from Faisalabad.

He said that Hajj Operation is also expected to start within next 3-4 months. “It will be a very difficult time for PIA and we are going to get additional six planes to fulfil the needs of the hajj operation”, he asserted. He assured that all unprofitable routes would be closed and air service on new profitable routes will be started very soon.

He told that he had been serving as Chairman Aeronautical Complex Kamra where during last 2 years he manufactured and exported 80 aircrafts.

Responding to yet another question, the PIA CEO said that on the request of renowned industrialists Mian Muhammad Haneef and Malik Abdur Rehman, “Qaseda Burda” will be aired in all flights between Faisalabad and Jeddah. He said that expansion of runway is a lengthy task but for the time being the existing runway will be upgraded to resolve complaints of delay in the delivery of luggage of pilgrims during upcoming hajj operation.

Regarding landing facility during dense fog, he informed that this facility is available only at Lahore Port and this system was gifted by the Qatar. About delay in dry cargo during mango season, he assured to evolve a policy to avoid any embarrassment to the textile exporters. Responding to yet another question about direct flights from Faisalabad to China, he said that it is not possible with the present runway. However, he assured that an incentive package could be offered to incentivize the regular customers of PIA. He also assured that he could arrange screening and other machines relating to the handling of cargo in case of Faisalabad Chamber arranges its own cargo plane to start first air cargo service of PIA from this city.

Earlier in his address of welcome, Syed Zia Alumdar Hussain President FCCI told that Faisalabad is this third biggest city which is also second in revenue generation. “It has 7,000 members and is serving the business community of Faisalabad for the last 44 years”, he added. He told that although textile is the iconic identification of Faisalabad yet it has well-developed oil, rice, chemical, knitwear and value added sectors. He told that in textile sector of Faisalabad is catering to 55 percent needs of this country. “Similarly, its contribution in total textile export is around 45 percent”, he added.

Mian Muhammad Idrees former president FPCCI also welcomed Air Marshal Arshad Malik and told that small aero planes could be used to tap local potential in according to the capacity of its runway.

A comprehensive sitting of question-answer session was also held in which Dr. Khurram Tariq, Vice President FCCI Engineer Ehtisham Javed, Mian Aftab Ahmad, Mian Muhammad Lateef, Chaudhary Muhammad Asghar, Kashif Zia, Engineer Rizwan Ashraf, Shabbir Hussain Chawla and Shahid Ahmad Sheikh raised interesting questions.

Later, Senior Vice President FCCI Mian Tanveer Ahmad offered votes of thanks while Mian Muhammad Idrees presented FCCI shield to Air Marshal Arshad Malik. In the end, President and Chief Executive of PIA also presented a model of jetfighter of Pakistan Air Force to Syed Zia Alumdar Hussain. MNA Sheikh Khurram Shehzad, District Manager PIA Qaisar Iqbal, Habib Ahmad Gujjar and Mian Mushtaq Ahmad also attended this meeting.