RAWALPINDI: Pakistan Inter­n­ational Airlines (PIA), which is cur­rently for sale, has an average of 304 employees per aircraft, the aviation division’s head told a National Assembly committee on Monday.

In a detailed briefing to the Standing Committee on Aviation, Saif Anjum, the aviation division secretary, said PIA has a fleet of 34 aircraft, of which 13 are on dry lease while the rest are owned by the airline.

Currently, PIA has a workforce of 10,323 employees, of which 7,399 are regular while 2,924 are outsourced.

The committee was informed that the privatisation process of PIA is almost complete.

National carrier has workforce of over 10,000 persons; PCAA, ASF decry lack of funding

On the performance of Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA), the meeting was told the regulator currently operates 22 out of 43 airports in the country, of which 13 are international.

However, the aviation regulator has been experiencing development budget constraints for several years, forcing it to use outdated equipment.

The Airport Security Force (ASF) representative also complained about the lack of funds, which is why the force is compelled to use old security gadgets.

Still, the ASF representative claimed, they have been working on procuring the latest gadgets and some baggage scanning equipment have already arrived.

The meeting was informed that ASF has 15,565 personnel, including 14,135 uniformed and 873 civilian staff.

Of the 43 airports located across the country, ASF is deployed at 22.

The committee, which met un­­d­er the leadership of PPP MNA Na­­w­­abzada Iftikhar Ahmed Khan, ex­­p­ressed concerns over cracks in the aircraft parking area at Allama Iq­­bal International Airport, Lahore.

In response, the PCAA officials acknowledged the issue and said the renovation is underway.

The committee also questioned the appointment of aero-medical staff and pilots’ licensing and sought a comprehensive report on these matters.

Regarding complaints about delays of private airlines and inconvenience faced by travellers, Mr Anjum said notices had been served on two private carriers, Air Blue and Air Sial, as there was no excuse to justify frequent delays.

PIA would also be served notice if its flights are delayed, he added.

To another question, he informed the meeting that due to feasibility, private airlines are not interested in operating flights on the Islam­abad-Lahore-Islamabad route.

The committee emphasised the need to improve the quality of in-flight catering services and the behaviour of PCAA staff towards passengers.

In response to a member’s query, the ASF representative informed the meeting that nobody, except the VVIPs, is exempted from body searches at airports.

The committee was also infor­med about the recently devised policy ‘Civil Unmanned Aircraft Rules, 2024’, to regulate the usage of drones. The policy is set to be presented before the federal cabinet for approval.

PMD to install new radars

Furthermore, the committee was briefed about the Pakistan Meteo­r­o­­logical Department’s (PMD) plans to install five new radars in Quetta, Dera Ismail Khan, Cherat, Gwadar and Lahore.

Three mobile radars and 300 au­­tomatic weather stations will also be installed under the World Bank-funded Hydromet Project. The com­­mittee was also informed abo­ut the development of a mobile ap­­plication to provide farmers and other state departments with early weather forecasts and flood warnings.

Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2024

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