In a meeting of the PIA’s employees unions and associations under the ambit of the Joint Action Committee of the Pakistan International Airlines Employees (JACPIAE) on Wednesday, the PIA employees demanded of the Defence Minister Syed Naveed Qamar to persuade the former Chairman PIA Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Rao Qamar Suleman, who recently quit the airline’s Chairmanship apparently out of health reasons, to review his decision.
The JACPIAE is a combination of several PIA employees bodies including Pakistan Airline Pilots Association (PALPA), Air League (AL), Society of Aircraft Engineers of Pakistan (SAEP), Flight Engineers National Association (FENA) and Aircraft Technologists Association of Pakistan (ATAP).
“With the appointment of Rao Qamar, the politics of nepotism within the management had ended but the same has restarted right after his decision to resign. Many aspirants have started lobbying for the post and the same shameful game of scratching each others back has started again,” a statement issued after the Wednesday’s meeting said.
According to the informed officials, the three names being considered to fill in the MD PIA slot are: Captain Nadeem Khan Yousufzai, Haider Jalal and Naveed Aziz. Yousafzai is the Director General at Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
He was heading PIA till March this year before Rao Qamar Suleman took over as the PIA’s top boss. Before becoming MD PIA, Yousufzai was occupying his present post-DG CAA. Jalal, the former Director Marketing at PIA, was till recently working as a consultant at the State-run airline before Rao sent him packing, as part of his policy to lay off those personnel who were ‘less required’ but were enjoying lucrative perks, privileges and salaries. Aziz is the PIA’s former Director Flight Operations.
“Hardly a while after Rao stepped down, the vested interests who are responsible for the PIA’s hopeless state of affairs are active again to grab the lucrative slot,” officials commented.
Two other proposals, it is further learnt, being discussed within the top government corridors include the option to let the Acting MD PIA Junaid Younis continue with his present assignment till the completion of Haj operations and hand the PIA’s Chairmanship to the Secretary Defence Lt General (r) Asif Yasin Malik, without a regular MD. The second reported proposal sees discussions on convincing Air Chief Marshal (r) Rao Qamar Suleman to rejoin the PIA as its Chairman and get an MD of his choice. The Secretary Defence was made Chairman Board of Directors of PIA Investments Limited (PIAIL) on Tuesday.
Last week, Rao had resigned from the PIA Chairmanship citing his health condition amidst the reports that he stepped down due to political pressures for blue-eyed appointments in the State-run airline.
His resignation came just a couple of days after rejoining the office, after having undergone a heart surgery. Circles close to the former Chairman, however, say Rao had the strong support of PIA employees unions, management and the government.
Meanwhile, the JACPIAE statement said, the “prudent policies pursued by Rao Qamar in short span of time proved efficacy of his actions. Today we have only six aircraft in hangers for usual checkups as against 19 early this year due to lack of spares and an average of 10-12 for the last two years. Since none in the race (for MD slot) is sincere to the airline, it has been decided by the Joint Action Committee to request Rao Qamar to withdraw his resignation so that the airline could benefit from his non-political and truly professional conduct.”
The Committee said it represented employees from all cadre affiliated with different political parties who “unanimously supported the government decision of appointment of Rao Qamar and requests the government not to accept his resignation.”
With Rao’s resignation, the statement said, “the loot-corrupt committee of the past has been activated again looking for a chance to get access to the record of their corruption and destroy the same but the employees of the sensitive departments are holding on to these files to bring them to justice at the right time.”
Last Month, PIA BoD had approved hiring nine Boeing aircraft on lease for Haj operations. The decision, despite been criticised by Transparency International, was largely lauded by the PIA employees as well as the aviation experts. The JACPIAE had supported hiring Boeing for Haj flights stating that the expertise for operating Airbus A320, a modernised alternate to Boeing 737, were lacking in Pakistan.