Effective regulatory control by an independent competent CAA must precede privatization of PIA, otherwise it will be an exercise in futility. For privatization of essential services like commercial air transportation and ensuring that internationally acceptable flight safety standards are stringently followed, it is essential first to put in place powerful aviation regulator employing best qualified inspectors, free from interference by vested interests. Unfortunately CAA Pakistan has failed in performing its sole primary function of a regulator and if anybody has any doubts kindly review track record of existing private airlines. Name one major aviation catastrophe involving Pakistan registered aircrafts where reliable accident investigation acceptable to ICAO has been conducted and next of kin compensated. It is rampant corruption and culture of cronyism that prevails in subcontinent which has destroyed state owned enterprises and compromised mandatory regulatory state obligations. 

If CAA had performed its regulatory function, private owned Bhoja Air, could never get Airline Operators Certificate without providing credible bank guarantees and proof of insurance policies to compensate passengers in case of fatal accidents like one which occurred on 20 April 2012 killing all 127. It must be remembered that Bhoja Air was forced to cease operation 12 years ago for similar violations and this was their first flight after resumption. Yet Bhoja Air owners managed to flee Pakistan and till todate next of kin have not received a paisa. 

All regional airlines such as Emirates, Etihad, Qatar etc are owned by their respective governments and are being operated efficiently, just like PIA was under Nur Khan, providing quality reliable services to their clients watched by an independent regulatory authority put in place to monitor various aspects of operation. It is sense of ownership by respective governments in Gulf which ensure that recruitments in these airlines are strictly on merit and there are no revenue pilferages, nor any dubious underhand deals in procurement of essential spare part contracts or fleet induction. These Gulf states, which lack assured local ethnic traffic to fill seats, exploited greed and vested interests of powerful lobbies in neighboring countries like Pakistan to secure routes, slots with Fifth and Sixth Freedom Rights to fill their vacant seats. 

MALIK TARIQ ALI,  

Lahore, February 5.