MD PIA while addressing a press briefing has come up with a plan to check their pilots, cabin crew and other staff for alcohol and drug abuse, after yet another embarrassing indiscipline involving a pilot Capt who being drunk, managed to enter the cockpit of a PIA A-310 at Bradford Airport, carrying out his pre flight checks prior to departure. Had PIA management made these in-house checks through a reliable and credible audit by executives with professional integrity, free from political or union pressures, the rise in gross indiscipline and financial irregularities that this tax payer owned corporation has suffered, the national airline would not be in the terrible mess that it is in today.

PIA’s politicized and mediocre executives are part of the problem and therefore cannot be expected to offer a solution. For the past six years, the airline is run by political cronies of the previous government top leadership which has the resulted in total destruction of this once prestigious airline. What we forget is that PIA, because of the nature of its international operations, is subject to regulatory controls by not only ICAO, but Civil Aviation Authorities of the countries it flies to, or whose airspace it uses. It was the arrogance of Tariq Kirmani etc and their unfamiliarity with the workings of the regulated environment and powers vested in regulators that led to suspension of PIA flights to the EU countries by EU.

May one ask what were the MD of PIA and other executives and concerned officers of the ministry doing all these years? Random checks which are very important to keep surveillance of what is going on, were not being carried out, in Pakistan to check for alcohol or drug abuse? These random checks for alcohol or drug abuse, or inspection of aircraft air worthiness required for flight safety is the primary function of regulator, namely CAA, and not of airline operator. What PIA needs is an immediate handover to best qualified team of competent professionals, instead of continuing with status quo. It must forcefully be restored to a service oriented industry catering to its revenue passengers, instead of an organization hostage to employee groups, politicians, bureaucrats and used as a job provider to political favorites in violation of merit.

GULL ZAMAN,

Peshawar, September 24.