RAWALPINDI: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plans to bring down its ratio of employees per aircraft in a bid to save billions over the coming year.

The national flag carrier has cut the number of personnel with access to planes from 550 to 260, as part of ongoing reforms.

A PIA spokesperson said that the airline would aim to bring this number down to 220 per aircraft this year.

According to PIA CEO Air Marshal Arshad Malik, the reduction in the number of employees will save the airline up to Rs 8 billion per year, adding that the restructuring process would not compromise their productivity and standards.

Employee-to-aircraft ratio reduced to 260; airline likely to trim further fat from workforce

According to the spokesperson, this move would bring the airline at par with international aviation standards.

The reduction in workforce was down to the initiation of the Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS), as well as the weeding out of fake degree holders and employees terminated on disciplinary grounds.

While 1,900 employees opted for VSS, 837 individuals were terminated for possessing fake degrees and 1,100 on disciplinary grounds, the spokesperson said.

In 2020, PIA had set itself a target of reducing the number of employees to 7,500-8,000 for 29 aircraft — over half of the total strength — through the VSS programme and a segregation of core and non-core functions.

In a report submitted before the Supreme Court, the management had stated that it had 14,500 employees for a fleet of 29 planes, compared to 31,000 employees working for a fleet of 329 aircraft at Turkish Airlines.

According to figures of aircraft-to-employees ratio submitted to the court at that time, Qatar Airways had 46,000 employees for a fleet of 240 aircraft, Emirates had 62,356 employees for 269 aircraft, Etihad Airways employed 21,530 people for 102 aircraft while PIA had 14,500 personnel for 29 aircraft.

The PIA CEO further said that the airline also planned to induct the latest fuel-efficient aircraft in its fleet in the coming years, hoping that they would increase the airline’s productivity and efficiency.

During a recent press conference, Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had said that while the Covid-19 pandemic had taken its toll on airlines across the globe, PIA had increased its revenue and decreased operational expenditures.

He said PIA had inducted two new A320 aircraft in its fleet last year and four new A320s would be added to the fleet in mid-2022.

He had also revealed that six planes, including two 777s and four A320s, whose leases were set to expire, have been re-acquired on ownership basis.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2022

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