ISLAMABAD: Defending its decision of replacing the Pakistani flag on the tail of Pakistan International Airlines aircraft with the picture of markhor, the PIA management on Monday informed the Supreme Court that the rebranding initiative was intended to make a comeback to the global arena.
In a report furnished before the Supreme Court through senior counsel Naeem Bokhari, the PIA management explained that the airline embarked upon the renewed branding initiative in April 2016 and used the emblem of markhor, the national animal of Pakistan, to define PIA’s journey as a resilient national icon striving to make a comeback to the global arena.
The SC is seized with a case regarding reports that PIA accumulated losses of Rs360 billion till December 2017 and that the total liabilities amounted to Rs406 billion against assets of Rs111 billion and plans were afoot to sell off the national asset at a throwaway price.
Decision was part of rebranding initiative to show airlines’ comeback to global arena, SC told
Last month the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) in a report had blamed the absence of a professional and experienced leadership for the present state of affairs at PIA and regretted that the corporation was being run like a non-business entity.
PIA was also blamed for wasting money in changing the livery of the aircraft by replacing the Pakistani flag with the emblem of markhor.
PIA explained that the rebranding of the airline with the symbol of markhor was presented to the PIA board. The board approved that two aircraft namely A320 (AP BLU) and Boeing 777 (AP BMH), which were already in the hangers requiring paint, would be the candidates for the new livery.
The report furnished by the PIA management stated the markhor livery was selected to be applied by the modern method of decals for quicker turnaround and more vibrant look. Since the engineering department showed its inability to do so, it was decided that brand management section would spearhead the project and get it done through the scope of promotional material printing.
Subsequently, necessary approvals were obtained from the relevant authorities and a tender was floated with the involvement and full information of stakeholders. After completion of the process, the purchase order was issued to the qualified party, PIA management explained.
The task was completed and payments were processed, but to create pressure on the then PIA CEO, the provisional purchase order (PO) was released to the media and unions were incited, the report added.
With regard to the hiring of the brand consultant, the brand consultancy process was done in full compliance of the PPRA (Public Procurement Regulatory Authority) regulations through open tender and evaluations by multiple departments, the report contended.
Hiring, renewal of contracts
Referring to a ban placed by the SC on recruitment of employees in PIA, an application was filed to seek court permission to allow advertisement for the key vacant positions to hire employees having specific skills to efficiently deal with the consistently deteriorating situation.
The application explained that some key positions were lying vacant across the organisation as the specific skill required to fill those positions was not available within PIA.
In 2010, the PIA board of directors had decided to appoint skilled workers on a contractual basis so that they could assist PIA to reach its desired objectives.
The apex court was assured that the hiring would be carried out on a merit basis conforming to the approved human resource budget while the salaries to be paid would correspond to the existing market rates as the management had every intention to maximise PIA’s efficiency and profitability.
The PIA management also sought a direction of the apex court for renewal of contracts of the existing contractual employees.
It said this was required urgently as a number of contractual employees were already approaching the competent courts of law for renewal of their contracts.
Ex-CEO seeks permission to travel abroad
On Sept 3, the Supreme Court had set aside the appointment of Musharraf Rasool Cyan as PIA chief executive officer for being against the rules and procedure.
Mr Cyan later approached the apex court with a request to order removal of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL).
In the application, Mr Cyan gave an undertaking that he would return to Pakistan within three days of notice by the court or required by the auditors appointed on the orders of the apex court to conduct audit of the airline.
He contended that he needed to go to the US and his trip would not exceed more than 15 days. He added that his wife and two children were in Pakistan and wished to remain in the country.
The former CEO explained that he had to attend to his property matters in the US but the applicant’s name still figured on the ECL in pursuance of the SC observations.
He explained that he had already deposited Rs2.3 million with PIA being the cost of passengers who were taken by PIA on the inaugural air Safari trip of the PIA to promote the flight for additional revenues. The persons were selected by the commercial department of PIA and not by him, he contended.
Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2018