However the PIA spokesman, when contacted, denied the reports saying the airline had suspended the meal on domestic flights some couple of years back and it was a cost-cutting measure to pull the losses-stricken airline out of crisis. Aviation experts have termed the decision of PIA management to suspend meal on flights merely a cosmetic measure, for, they are of the view that PIA without making its top management clean and tackling notoriety of being declared an airline with highest employees to aircraft ratio in the world, has embarked on move to stop offering hot meals to passengers without any reduction in fares.
A comparison of PIA with other airlines of the world reveals that Southwest Airlines has a fleet of 694 aircraft, with 46,000 employees on its payroll and six sets of pilots per aircraft which means six captains and six copilots, while PIA with a fleet of 32 aircraft has almost 23,900 employees with 20 to 26 pilots per serviceable aircraft, which does not include over 30 pilots rehired after retirement on contract basis and more than 300 new pilots recruited in the past four years waiting to be operational.
Such cost-cutting measures only yield benefits if airline first gets rid of its surplus staff and administrative expenses involved in running and maintaining an overcrowded head office like the one PIA has at Karachi and other line stations both domestic and international. While PIA has invested over $ 60 million on procuring, installing and operating a fully computerised reservation and booking system, it has yet to offset this additional investment by closing down its overstaffed and elaborate sales and booking offices all over the world, including its off-line stations such as Sydney, Singapore, Colombo, Chicago, Washington, Rome, Glasgow, Yanbo, Ras al Khaima, Fajura, Tehran and some others, where no PIA flight operates to.
Low cost airlines operating all over the world offer passengers competitive low fares without offering any meals to passengers, who are allowed to purchase food from outlets that offer their services within the transit lounge. Airlines like Southwest Airlines after merger with Trans Air in USA offer passengers, low fares and two free bags each weighing under 50 Pounds on domestic routes, with attractive variety of low fares.
For example seats booked in advance by 20 days through Internet E-Ticketing, are encouraged, and savings on administrative expenses is passed on to passengers. These domestic airlines offer complimentary snacks like potato chips and free cold drinks, or coffee during flight. Some airlines sell cold meals onboard. The cost of serving hot meals is minuscule when compared with salaries, allowances and perks of the surplus number of employees of every cadre, massive pilferage, corruption and kickbacks that plague PIA. An officer of catering department from Lahore station said that a sum of Rs 10 million was being spent monthly on meal to passengers and a suspension could result in decrease in people choosing PIA for travel.