Misleading Figures

The first half of the year has seen PIA post losses of Rs. 10.1 billion, and while this is a staggering amount, small comfort can be taken in the fact that losses for the first six months of 2013 were over Rs. 18 billion. Accumulated losses of the national carrier however, are over Rs. 200 billion, which PIA cannot hope to pay unless there is some sort of massive change in its fortunes very soon. That does not seem likely, even if the loss is lower than those seen in the past because very simply, losses are still being incurred and the airline has taken no proactive steps, apart from half-hearted attempts at wet-leasing more aircrafts.
The organisation is setting new records of corruption, mismanagement and disrepute, with an increasing number of delayed flights added the recent allegations against crew members and pilots of attempting to smuggle phones, undeclared foreign currency and drugs both to and from Pakistan. The management is also busy conducting deals on the sidelines with the Pakistan Air Line Pilots’ Association (PALPA) to soften the blow of pilots being unused on the injection of extra planes in to the fleet. Crews are included in the provision of wet-lease agreements, which means that the surplus of pilots contracted to PIA will not be required. Labour unions of PIA have practically held the airline hostage, with an employee per plane of 220:1 where other airlines are at 81:1.
The government has all but forgotten their promise to both the country and IMF of privatising PIA to lift this massive burden of bailouts from the state. Thinking of this loss as a victory, an upward trend or an argument against privatisation is not going to do PIA any favours at this point. The labour unions are the only ones that serve to benefit, because the arrival of any private conglomerate will mean mass redundancies. The figures show that this is imperative, for PIA’s future lies in securing more wet-leases, and with an excess of staff currently, increasingly more workers will get paid out of the national kitty for doing no work at all. Clearly, a massive overhaul is due, and avoiding losses, is only the first step out of this mess.

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