PIA flights ‘par­tially on’ at Is­lam­abad air­port

The Pak Banker - - NATIONAL -

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.

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