PIA flights ‘partially on’ at Islamabad airport
Four Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flights departed from and landed at Islamabad's Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA) this morning after five days of stalled operations at all major international airports in the country.
Flights PK 4232 and PK 605 departed for Abu Dhabi and Gilgit from BBIA this morning, while flights PK 4231 and 606 arrived at Islamabad airport from Abu Dhabi and Gilgit and Jeddah-Islamabad flight PK 7330 landed at BBIA around 2:37pm, flight data shows. Civil Aviation official Imran told media it was unclear whether more PIA flights would operate at the airport the rest of the day.
Although the PIA employees' Joint Action Committee (JAC) has resolved to continue their protest against the government's plans to privatise the national flag carrier, PIA spokesman Daniyal Gillani says flight operations are "partially on" and is optimistic they will pick up in the coming week. "Some employees are willing to come to work. They operated the flights [that arrived and departed from BBIA] this morning," he said. JAC members claimed the flights operated were 'illegal' as they weren't up to international security standards.
The Pakistan Air Lines Pilots Association (Palpa) on Saturday announced its withdrawal from the strike against PIA's privatisation, with the organisation head directing pilots to resume their duties. Palpa added in a a statement that pilots were neither instrumental in halting the flight operations nor could they alone resume it. Palpa President Amir Hashmi earlier told media: "At least 410 out of 430 pilots in Palpa are in favour of resumption of flight operations," but that they should be provided adequate security as "we are receiving threats from the protesters". Palpa urged the government to resolve the issue so that flight operations could resume at the earliest.
PIA employees have also voiced concerns about security, a PIA official speaking on condition of anonymity told media "PIA employees are afraid of going to work. Some security arrangements have been made for them," he said. PIA JAC Spokesman Nasrullah Khan, however, told media "We are not pressuring employees to stop working or calling them to protest... We are peaceful."
Television footage shows PIA employees protesting outside the country's four major airports as the strike against privatisation goes into its sixth day. Nasrullah said protesters will hold a rally in Karachi on Monday near the PIA Head Office at around 12pm. He said a petition submitted in the Sindh High Court regarding the 'mysterious' disappearances of four People's Unity members has been accepted for hearing, although a date for the first hearing is pending. "We haven't named anyone in the petition. Our workers were picked up from their houses. We want to know why," he said. On Saturday, a First Information Report (FIR) were registered against key government functionaries and top PIA management regarding Tuesday's firing incident that claimed the lives of two PIA employees on the first day of the protest.