PIA head offices reopen as flights ‘partially’ resume
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) head offices in Karachi and Islamabad reopened Monday, following ' partial resumption' of flight operations at various international airports across Pakistan, PIA spokesman Daniyal Gillani said.
PIA flight operations partially resumed at Karachi's Jinnah International Airport on Monday, where flight PK 732 arrived at 1:50pm ? nearly 12 hours later, however, than its scheduled arrival time ? carrying pilgrims from Jeddah. After remaining suspended for six days because of the employees' strike, PIA flight operations partially resumed on Sunday when the airline's two Boeing aircraft brought home 725 pilgrims stranded in Saudi Arabia.
Two more planes took off from Islamabad's Benazir Bhutto International Airport for Jeddah on Sunday night to bring back the remaining pilgrims. Another flight (PK-211) left for Dubai in the evening. The airline's ATR flight with four people on board landed at the Gilgit airport and returned to Islamabad with the passengers stranded there. One domestic and four international flights were operated from Lahore, but operations from other airports of the country could not resume.
However, PIA employees voiced concerns that proper safety protocol had not been followed to put the planes in the air. PIA engineers warned the management against operating flights without ensuring the aircraft's maintenance protocols as it may cause serious safety hazards. The Society of Aircraft Engineers of Pakistan said: "The PIA management is forcing the engineers to release the aircraft without accomplishment of the prerequisites which are mandatory as per ICAO and PCAA regulations. The safety of passengers and the aircraft itself is being jeopardised. Inspections and components' replacement issues are being waived off by PCAA Pakistan under pressure by the government officials,"
On Sunday night, a warning letter about the application of the Pakistan Essential Services (Maintenance) Act, 1952, was delivered to striking employees to make them aware that their strike was illegal, the PIA spokesman said. The employees protesting against the government move to privatise the national flag carrier had rejected the Act after it was imposed on Feb 2, and threatened to bring the flight operations to a standstill.
The letter says the law envisages serious penalties, including dismissal from service and imprisonment for a maximum period of one year along with a fine, for the protesting employees. The Act has been imposed for six months. The employees were advised in the letter to refrain from indulging in any activity tantamount to an offence under the Act, failing which they might become liable for prosecution in court, besides facing disciplinary action under the corporation's rules.