RAWALPINDI: Pakis­tan International Airlines (PIA) has grounded 11 aircraft, including three of its Boeing 777s, as the national flag carrier faces a serious financial crisis due to the uncontrolled flight of dollars and increase in prices of petroleum products.

According to sources, the airline, which operates around 30 aircraft, has been facing serious difficulties in procuring spare parts for the past three years due to scarcity of funds, which has resulted in the grounding of 11 planes.

Two of the three wide-body Boeing 777 aircraft were grounded in 2020 and one in 2021. Five A320 aircraft have also been grounded — two in 2021 and three in 2023. PIA also grounded three ATR aircraft — one each in 2020, 2022 and 2023.

A spokesman for PIA confirmed that 11 aircraft have been grounded due to a lack of funds to buy spare parts as the national flag carrier is facing serious financial challenges, including dependency on foreign currency.

A senior official of the airline said the PIA fleet consisted of 31 aircraft and three of the 11 grounded planes — Boeing 777, Airbus and ATR — are beyond repair for want of engines and other parts.

The official said PIA is currently operating with the remaining 20 aircraft and the flight operations are being carried out according to the available aircraft. He said the airline will be facing a shortage of aircraft if flights are increased, especially on international routes.

PIA’s website shows its network spans across Asia, Europe and North Amer­ica, covering 19 countries.

SSA office closed

Separately, the office of the Senior Staff Associa­tion (SSA) has been closed by the PIA management “to maintain law and order situation and smooth functioning of the corporation’s activities”.

Safdar Anjum, the secretary general of SSA, termed the closure of their office illegal and an attempt to sabotage peace of the organisation.

On the other hand, the protest by People’s Unity against planned privatisation of the national flag carrier and demand for an increase in salaries of employees continued on Monday as the PIA office in Rawalpindi remained closed for two hours.

In a press release, the People’s Unity said the protest will continue till the acceptance of all their demands. In order to stop the privatisation process and make all daily-wage employees permanent, the two-hour long strike across the country will continue on Tuesday as well, it added.

Hidayatullah Khan, the central president of People’s Unity, said the protest will continue until all demands are accepted and they will expand the scope of the protest from Tuesday to all offices throughout the country.

Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2023

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