Prolonged delays in PIA flights are a cause for concern. Responsibility for safe operation, airplane fitness and safety regulations rests with CAA Pakistan, which is the regulatory authority to enforce ICAO regulations. The problem here is that both PIA and CAA are headed by same individual, who happens to be a Federal Minster. There is a direct conflict of interest here, which explains the compromises made, thereby jeopardizing safety of operation in accordance with international regulations. PIA aircrafts deputed for Umra operation are in a deplorable state and 90% of these flights are being delayed. It is not just the ageing fleet, but irregularities in procurement of technical spares and outsourcing maintenance of aircrafts which is a problem. Even delays in PIA's new fleet of B777 are much higher than industry average. Poor management, huge pilferages and appointment of corrupt incompetent cronies has dealt a severe blow to PIA flight regularity and its balance sheet. The airline is being bled of Rs5 Crore daily. It is not just lapses in maintenance and fitness of aircrafts that are being compromised but serious violation of international aviation laws because of political compulsions that poses a threat to our aviation industry, which can face strict censure and even freezing of their international operation. In Lahore a gang of PIA traffic staff was caught red handed for facilitating an irregularity which resulted in the travel of an unaccounted passenger from Lahore to London aboard a PIA flight PK757. The guilty staff issued duplicate boarding card to a lady passenger holding a valid ticket. The lady passenger was facilitated to board the aircraft in spite of double checks by security and computerized check in system. This is a very serious breach of ICAO rules which has the penalty of cancellation of PIA's Air Operator License. Although an in-house inquiry was launched and culprits found guilty, their punishment was relaxed by chairman abusing his discretionary powers. IMRAN NAZEER, Lahore, August 26.