Pilots call off strike after assurance they will be provided PPE

Updated April 08, 2020

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Coronavirus SOPs designed by the government and CAA will be followed by the pilots.  — AFP/File
Coronavirus SOPs designed by the government and CAA will be followed by the pilots. — AFP/File

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (Palpa) called off its strike after it was assured that personal protection equipment (PPE) will be provided to the cockpit and cabin crew staff.

On the other hand, standard operating procedures (SOPs) designed by the government and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will be followed by the pilots.

The decision was taken after a meeting chaired by Aviation Secretary Nasir Hassan Jamy with representatives of Palpa and PIA on Tuesday.

Aviation Division spokesman Abdul Sattar Khokhar said the representatives of Palpa informed the meeting of their apprehensions regarding safety measures for the crew members in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The secretary assured the representatives that the government would fully implement the SOPs prepared by CAA.

The Palpa representatives assured the government of their full cooperation in bringing back Pakistanis stranded abroad, said the spokesman.

It was decided that the pilot-in command will ensure to their satisfaction the implementation of the SOPs issued by CAA.

A certificate will be countersigned and verified by a CAA inspector from the directorate of flight standards and directorate of airworthiness. The inspector will brief the captain of the flight about it. The flight will operate upon satisfaction of the captain.

The airline will ensure that the cabin crew and the relevant ground handling staff are fully briefed and trained. It shall also be ensured that full compliance to the SOPs is made at every level.

The meeting also decided that unwillingness of a pilot to operate a flight due to issues related to the pandemic will be informed in writing to the airline.

The airline will provide appropriate personal protection equipment to the cockpit and cabin crew members with immediate effect.

It was also decided that CAA’s directions of operations from designated facilities will be strictly followed.

Palpa General Secretary Imran Narejo told Dawn that they had demanded personal protection kits for the cockpit and cabin crew as they did not want to put the lives of their people and passengers in danger in the existing pandemic.

He said Palpa had offered their services to bring back Pakistanis stranded in different countries.

“Palpa’s demands were genuine which were accepted by the authorities concerned,” he said.

Palpa on Sunday night had asked its members “not to operate any flight until further notice.”

They had expressed their concern over safety measures which they claimed had been compromised and Covid-19 related SOPs had been ignored. Safety and health of crew members have always been utmost priority and in such circumstances, Palpa would not be in a position to compromise on the safety of its members.

Flights disrupted

The PIA flight operations remained disrupted on the second day on Tuesday as some flights were either cancelled or delayed due to the strike of the pilots.

A PIA flight for Birmingham and another special flight to bring back Pakistanis stranded in Iraq could not depart till evening. However, PIA flights to Manchester and Gilgit took off from Islamabad with delay.

PK-701 departed to Manchester with 372 passengers on board at 9:45am while PK-603 departed for Gilgit at 8:50 with 44 passengers on board. It was scheduled to take off at 8:30am. The same plane came back from Gilgit at about 11:15am.

Special flight PK-9813, which was scheduled to take off for Baghdad at 5am to bring back stranded Pakistanis there, had not taken off till filing of this report at night.

PK-791 scheduled to take off for Birmingham at 11:10 am was cancelled.

PIA flights to Gilgit - PK-605 and PK-607 - were cancelled while PK-451 to Skardu at 10:20am was first delayed and finally cancelled at 2pm.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2020