ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Airline Pilots Association (PALPA) Thursday claimed that special assistant to the Prime Minister on Aviation Division, Shujaat Azim, has held out categorical assurance to address genuine grievances of the pilots.

Addressing a joint press conference with PALPA President Captain Amir Hashmi after his meeting with Shujaat Azim, spokesperson of Civil Aviation Division Sher Ali Khan said that the crucial meeting has resulted into a breakthrough as a positive way forward has been found out.

He said the PALPA has been held out an assurance that their genuine demands will be looked into and resolved. “The talks held in a cordial atmosphere have bridged the trust deficit. He said it has been assured that no injustice with any pilot would be allowed to take place. He termed pilots as a national asset.

PALPA President Captain Amir Hashmi conceded that the go-slow strategy adopted by the association caused a loss to the national exchequer and inconvenience to the passengers besides damaging the image of the national flag-carrier.

He praised the aviation division and the PIA top management for the positive role played by them, but without naming anybody he said certain elements do not want this cordial relationship to continue for their vested interest.

He said since assumption of the office by Shujaat Azim, the number of aircraft has doubled. He said the number of pilots remained around 400 with a workload that should be shared by 600 pilots. He said being a professional body, the PALPA has set certain parameters to prevent health hazards for pilots owing to overwork.

“Pilots had been giving concession to the PIA and will keep doing so in future,” the PALPA President said.

About the suspension of licenses of two pilots for one and two years respectively, he said they have been assured there would be no victimization of pilots.

Captain Hashmi said the PALPA has proposed to the government to increase the retirement age of pilots from 60 to 65 years on regular basis. He said PIA was perhaps the only airline of the world where retirement age had been fixed at 60, otherwise, it was 65 years in most of the international airlines.

He said the trained pilots are employed by other airlines after retirement from PIA which means a national loss. He said there should be an across the board mechanism for it, without any room for pick and choose.

About the proposed privatization of PIA, the PALPA President said the association had reservations about it.