A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) allowed Air Marshal Arshad Malik to resume his duties as PIA CEO after Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan guaranteed that Pakistan Air Force (PAF) would not ask for Arshad Malik’s services any time soon. Now that the controversy regarding PIA CEO’s appointment is over, Mr Arshad Malik must utilise all his energies in returning our national carrier its former glory days.

Mr Arshad must find a solution for the most pressing issue PIA suffers from; overstaffing. It is unfortunate to note that compared to other airlines internationally, PIA’s staff-to-plane ratio stood at 500 to 1 in 2018. PIA’s exponential operating costs necessitate laying off employees that are not irreplaceable. Doing the necessary downsizing and how the national carrier lays off unnecessary staff will be the most significant challenges for Mr Malik.

Furthermore, the corporation has other issues that will also need Mr Malik’s urgent attention. Apart from over-staffing, corruption, nepotism and cronyism are reigning supreme in this pivotal government-owned corporation. Hopefully, Mr Malik will bring in his professional experience — that he gained over the years while serving in PAF — to use in returning the national flag carrier its glory and pride.

While fixing the national flag carrier, the CEO must keep a note of the fact that it is not just poor hiring practices of successive governments. Perhaps, poor decision-making, political interference at the top level along with managerial incompetence are far bigger problems Mr Malik will have to deal with. Moreover, the CEO will also have to find a mechanism by which the monetary losses of PIA can be stopped. In short, Mr Malik will have to enforce good governance and bring transparency in the functioning of PIA to make it one of the leading airlines in the region, if not the world.