ISLAMABAD - Minister of State for Privatisation Muhammad Zubair has said that 50 percent of Pakistan’s national flag carrier employees are surplus and a comprehensive plan is being chalked out to detach them from service.

In an interview with BBC on Thursday, he said in the backdrop of PIA’s privatisation, the government was mulling over the voluntary retirement of these surplus employees and wanted to extend help to them in searching new jobs.

“Not only the surplus staff but their ability and efficiency is also a big problem for the national flag carrier. How much these employees are capable and how efficiently they discharge their duties, is also a big question mark,” he said.

Divulging the details of PIA’s privatisation, the state minister for privatisation said with the appointment of advisers on financial affairs on July 22, the airlines’ privatization would start formally.

For the last two decades, Pakistan’s national airline is included in the list of those government entities which have to be privatized, but this is for the first time that its privatization is going to start formally.

The state minister told BBC that with the help of these new financial advisors, PIA’s privatization will be completed by the June-end next year.

“Our target is to complete the privatization process by the June 2015. During this, we will sell 26 or 51 percent shares to any private company, besides handing over its administrative control to that entity.

Once Pakistan’s national airline was not only a preferred source of travelling for the people but also a productive entity as well. Today the company’s monthly deficit is 700 million rupees and this deficit is on the rise slowly since 2005. Feeling the pinch of this deficit, the government has decided to privatise the company. There are many reasons behind the deficit faced by the national flag carrier. Government says the major reason is its huge workforce or staff which was recruited by different political parties in their tenures.

Today there are 600 employees for a PIA plane while, in the entire world, the employees’ number for a plane is less than 200.

PIA has 16,600 employees against 35 planes at present. Out of these 35 planes nine planes are not in functional condition due to various reasons. Since 1992, PIA is included in the list of government entities to be privatized, but, owing to the pressure by political parties and union it could not be privatized.

The state minister said that the number of shares to be sold will be finalized on the recommendations of the advisors. He said prior to the privatization of the company, its restructuring will be carried out and downsizing of the employees will also be undertaken. He further said that it was better for the employees to accept the voluntary retirement package which was in being finalised.

Zubair said the federal government was in touch with Qatar government because, due to world cup football matches to be held in that country in 2022, lacks of jobs would possibly be created there.