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PIA affairs

September 30, 2011

THIS is with reference to the letter ‘At the mercy of PIA’ (Sept 23) by Tariq Hussain Aamir. Mr Hussain’s complaint was received and forwarded to the department concerned for necessary and prompt action. In this regard, necessary action has already been initiated against those responsible.

Meanwhile, PIA regrets the inconvenience caused to Tariq Hussain due to a faulty seat during his travel. He has been compensated as requested and has been informed by our Customer Relations Department.

MASHHOOD TAJWAR PIA spokesman Karachi

Threat to flag carrier

PIA has played a strategic leading role in the field of commercial aviation in this region. It was indeed the PIA that helped create airlines such as Emirates and provided technical and management assistance to a number of international airlines in various fields, including engineering and computer technology.

PIA used to be a financially healthy enterprise but has now become financially sick and is surviving only on government subsidies. In fact the money of tax payers is being diverted to an organisation without any direction at the cost of even those facing a situation of life and death in pursuit of food, shelter, and medical care.

It seems a systematic plan is being pursued through which the “PIA is to be partially or completely removed from the scene of commercial aviation in this region”. It is very shocking to read the news, “Dubai-based US firm gets contract to buy spares for PIA” (Sept 28).

Having been very actively involved in management and procurement of spares and inventory through a computerised system in PIA for a long period of time, I feel very disappointed with this move. PIA used to have the most efficient infrastructure, systems and procedures required for the maintenance of PIA’s own aircrafts as well as aircrafts of other airlines.

In fact, a number of airlines in the region used to get technical and management help from PIA and even some of the airlines purchased systems from us. With the advancement in information technology, all stake holders involved in the business of spare parts are highly automated. Activity of purchase of spares on optimum price has therefore become simple and straight forward.

Policy of going to outside sources and abandoning own systems, infrastructures, experience and expertise will not only result in extra costs but dependence on foreign sources will minimise the scope of the national flag carrier and the airline will have to compromise on efficiency of keeping the aircrafts airworthy.

In the past, action of scrapping of PIA’s own in-house Reservation system (REPAK) and going outside the US-based system has already damaged PIA. Hopes and promises made at the time of changeover are hardly being achieved. In fact, the economic condition of PIA is being progressively detoured as a result of ineffective usage of the present reservation system. PIA’s own system was designed and was being operated considering our local commercial environment and peculiar profile of our customers. Of course, PIA is now paying hundred times more costs than the cost it used to incur in operating its own system.

Furthermore, in having an outside system there is a number of serious issues related to safety and security of the airline in particular and the nation in general. As information about movement of all those traveling by PIA, including ministers, politicians, military personnel and bureaucrats, is available in the system installed in the US and can be conveniently accessed from any location where the system is installed, including those hostile to Pakistan.

The reservation system now being used by PIA is installed in the US. A possibility always exists that the system may be disconnected at any time as a strategically “economical or political bargain toll”. Once the system is disconnected, operation of PIA will come to a complete halt and the operation of the airline will have to remain suspended for several months. As a well wisher of PIA who has worked very hard to build the airline I will appeal to present and retired employees of the airline as well as to loyal citizens of Pakistan to play their moral/legal role to save the airline from destruction.

As dedicated works of the airline has built a very strong foundation of the airline, sincere efforts can always turn around our national flag carrier.

Dr S Mir Muhammad Shah Ex-MD/DMD, PIA Karachi