PIA and its crash compensation
THIS is reference to trivial compensation announced by PIA for next of kin who lost their lives while travelling from Gilgit to Islamabad on 7 December. These were passengers who paid to travel safely and their revenue funds salaries of Chairman, Directors, GMs, pilots, engineers etc of PIA. Similarly taxes levied on passengers fund CAA which is required to ensure that airlines regulated by it are airworthy and meet safety standards required by ICAO.
Aviation safety and public interest is compromised just like the supply of adulterated milk, working of rail and road transportation, provision of basic health and every other facet involving public because of corruption infected bureaucracy, nepotism and equally corrupt political elite with their greed motivated conflicts of interest. It is failure of state to enforce strict regulatory oversight which has endangered public interest and basic fundamental rights. The rise in airline accidents and bird hits at airports points to failures of CAA and the state, more than airline operators. All employees of PIA are there to serve revenue clients but it is shocking that compensation announced for next of kin who perished on board Pk 661 is even lesser than two months take home salary (inclusive of allowances) of senior pilots working on LPR in national airline. For an airline surviving on dole outs from federal government, austerity measures must be confined to administrative costs, audited procurement and leasing etc and cutting down top heavy management dominated by mediocrity.
It is a contradiction that while FBR and Federal Government levies a reduced tax rate through an SRO for cockpit crew based on argument that their earning period is restricted by medical fitness requirements, yet they are only category of employees rehired on contract beyond national age of retirement which is 60 years. Is Flight Safety not being compromised? The national age of retirement in a country is based on average age of mortality, quality of medical facilities available on 24/7 basis, environmental conditions, nutrition quality and law and order prevailing.
It is time to restore PIA’s credibility to the level it enjoyed under Nur Khan by taking concrete steps to enforce administrative disciple, merit in recruitment and ordering a complete forensic audit of all recruitments carried out during past three decades. MALIK TARIQ ALI