KARACHI, June 2: Pointing out that political appointments had damaged the national airline, veteran pilot Captain Jan Sayed Mohammed Sadiq – better known as Johnny Sadiq – hoped that the selection of Pakistan International Airline’s new managing director would bring about a turnaround in the fortunes of the flag carrier.

Capt Sadiq, who has 37 years of flying experience under his belt, was speaking at the launch of Come Fly With Me: Jets, his second book, at a local hotel on Monday.

“The airline that I have loved so much has deteriorated. Political appointees have made decisions not for the airline but to please their masters,” he said, welcoming the appointment of new MD Captain Mohammad Aijaz Haroon, himself a pilot.

The author’s entire flying career was spent with the PIA apart from two-year-long deputations, the first with Royal Jordanian Airlines in 1970 and the second with Qatar Airways in 1998 in his last year of flying. The book is a follow-up to his maiden venture, Come Fly With Me: Propellers.

In the beginning of the book, he has made it clear that it is not a history of the PIA, but more of a personal account of his own career.

Narrating amusing anecdotes and vignettes from his career, Capt Sadiq said his wife Etsuko urged him to write the book. He told the audience that after reading the book, it might seem like flying is a dangerous pursuit, but said that statistically speaking, it is the safest way to travel, adding that he had flown thousands of flights safely.

The author, who cut his teeth by flying in Pakistan’s rather rough – terrain-wise – Northern Areas, said that today, pilots depend too much on the aircraft’s autopilot function and don’t do enough manual flying.

He also read out a poem he has composed, included in the book, which describes his flying career from the legendary propeller-driven Douglas DC-3 to the mighty Boeing 747, one of the biggest birds in the sky when speaking about commercial passenger aircraft.

Earlier, columnist and former general-manager of PIA Anwer Mooraj, who was the chief guest, introduced the author and the book and read out excerpts.

He said he was family friends with Capt Sadiq and knew the author from before their association in the national airline. He claimed that intrigues in the flag carrier took place from the GM down to the peons and were based on sectarian, provincial and other differences.

On a lighter note, he said the national airline was known for its beautiful and elegant air hostesses and alert stewards. He said the stories in the book were from before the time of hijackings and body searches.

He described the effort as a “highly unusual book, an autobiographical adventure story.” He said it contained accounts of not only how pilots fly but also how they spend their leisure time. Praising the author, Mr Mooraj said Capt Sadiq was a wonderful pilot and human being who was guided by professionalism and not expediency.

He said the book contains useful insights into the workings of two Third World airlines and that technical jargon has been kept to a minimum, adding that it was full of details.—QAM

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