A PIA aircraft takes off. – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has voiced dismay at the “mismanagement” of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), which it said lost $ 230 million in 2012, and ordered bosses to come up with a rescue plan.

The beleaguered national flag-carrier is notorious among Pakistanis for delays and cancellations and its planes have suffered a number of embarrassing technical problems this year.

In an order published Friday the apex court gave the chairman of PIA and the director general of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) two weeks to report back with a “comprehensive plan” to improve the airline and airports across the country.

The three-judge panel, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, said that financial statements showed loss of 22.43 billion rupees ($ 230 million) in 2012 and Rs 19.29 billion in 2011 by the national flag-carrier.

The airline employs 18,000 workers including both permanent and contract staff but has only 38 aircraft, the court said, 10 of which -- more than a quarter of the fleet -- are currently out of action for repairs.

PIA is planning to buy or lease eight more aircraft but the court said it was surprised the carrier had not done so sooner, given that much of the fleet is more than 25 years old.

“We are of the view, prima facie, that on account of such mismanagement a profit-earning organisation, being the only official airline, is making loss year to year,” the court order said.

The order also voiced frustration at the performance of seven senior PIA officials who had flown from Karachi to Islamabad specifically for the court hearing.

“No one amongst them was fully aware of the affairs of the Corporation and whenever questions were put to them, they stated that they had to get figures and they would inform the court...on the next date of hearing,” the court said.

“It clearly indicates mismanagement in the organisation otherwise efficient staff members having been posted against lucrative packages should have ensured that an organisation which is making losses should be turned into profit-earning organisation.”

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