ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday gave his approval for induction of five new Boeing 777 jets into the fleet of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).
He also stressed the need to make PIA a profitable entity and said all efforts should be made in this direction, with enhanced customer services, on time flight arrivals and departures with safety being the foremost priority.
The premier directed the PIA board members to hire experienced professionals to run the national flag carrier on commercial basis, ensuring profitability and revival of its past glory.
Prime Minister Sharif was chairing a meeting held here at the PM House to discuss the affairs of PIA.
Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar, Special Assistant to the PM Shujaat Azeem, Secretary Aviation Muhammad Ali Gardezi, DG Civil Aviation, Air Marshal (retd) Muhammad Yousaf and MD PIA Muhammad Junaid Yousaf attended the meeting.
During the meeting, it was also decided that PIA board members would discuss matters relating to the airline's restructuring and revitalisation on a regular basis with the PM.
The premier was told that the national flag carrier was presently in the process of acquiring 11 A320 aircraft on lease with deliveries starting from June this year.
He was further informed that with additional five Boeing 777 jets, the PIA would be in a better position to offer enhanced services to its passengers, increase revenue, destinations, flight punctuality and reduced maintenance costs.
The prime minister said the government would encourage privatisation of the PIA through competitive and transparent process without preemptive downsizing.
He showed trust in the airline's board of directors and lauded the competency of its members. There would be no interference in its matters and the government would extend full cooperation for streamlining the PIA, he added.
PM Sharif said the PIA was one of the country's national pride and its efficiency and high quality service were its hallmark. It had also set examples for other airlines, he added.
However, now the PIA has become a cause for national embarrassment as its performance deteriorated at breath-taking pace over the past decade, said the premier. It was now neither efficient nor profitable, he added.
He pointed out that the PIA had incurred loss of around Rs183 billion last year. The service delivery was equally lamentable, he added.
The prime minister was apprised of PIA's operations, including sales, marketing, engineering, cost cutting measures adopted and fleet planning.
He was briefed that steps had now been taken to overhaul the entity to restore its former position among the best airlines of the world.
The prime minister was informed that the closure of loss making routes had saved Rs902 million per annum. As many as 330 fake degree holder employees had been dismissed. A task force had been instituted to identify more fake degree holders on a fast-track basis.
He was also informed that a new SMS service had been launched and activated to inform the passengers for flight timings. All promotions would take place through mandatory NTS (National Testing Service) process. A dedicated task force was established at all major domestic stations to facilitate passengers.
The prime minister was told that new routes to facilitate passengers had been introduced, including Lahore-Quetta-Mashad, Quetta-Lahore-Multan, Jeddah-Multan and Multan-Madina.
He was further informed that six grounded aircraft had been refurbished and put into operation. Airlines Integrated Management System (AIMS) costing $1.5 million was now being put to optimal use for bringing efficiency and accountability in flight operation.