PIA employees end strike, resume flight operations nationwide

Published February 9, 2016
-DawnNews screengrab
-DawnNews screengrab

KARACHI: The Joint action Committee (JAC) of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) employees announced the end of its strike against the proposed privatisation of the national flag carrier and asked employees to resume flight operations across the country with immediate effect.

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday evening, JAC chairman Sohail Baloch announced the decision to end the eight-day long strike and requested "all airline workers to work with full dedication and pay no heed to anyone trying to disrupt flight operations".

"A kind friend advised us to call off the strike," Baloch said.

The assurance given to us by the government to resolve issues is enough to make us call off the strike, he added.

The JAC chairman said he will meet Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in Lahore on Tuesday (today).

"We hope that the meeting with Punjab chief minister will be satisfactory and beneficial both for the government and the employees of PIA," said Baloch.

When asked if the JAC had retracted from its demands, Baloch said he will "apprise media about the developments after meeting with the Punjab chief minister".

If the PIA workers cooperate with each other, there is no reason they cannot revive the airline within a year, said Baloch.

"We can revive this airline, we just need some support and guidance," he claimed.

Meanwhile, the PIA spokesperson also issued a statement and apologised for the inconvenience caused to passengers during the last eight days. He asked the passengers to come to airports as per their flight reservations.

Partial resumption

PIA flight operations had partially resumed on Monday and the head offices in Karachi and Islamabad were reopened. Numerous flights flew to their destinations and also arrived from different national and international locations.

However, PIA employees voiced concerns that proper safety protocol had not been followed for these flights.

PIA engineers warned the management against operating flights without ensuring aircraft maintenance protocols as it may cause serious safety hazards.

Privatisation of PIA

The National Assembly on January 21 witnessed the passage of six bills, including one to convert the national flag carrier into a public limited company.

Under the bill, Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (PIAC) is to be converted into a public limited company as Pakistan International Airlines Company Limited (PIACL).

The government plans to split the ailing national flag carrier PIA into two companies and sell the control of its core business to a global airline, but the opposition to the sell-off has been intense.

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