PIA offices on lockdown as protest against privatization enters third day

KARACHI : The employees continued protest against privatization of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on third day by shutting the offices across the country on Thursday.

The staffers locked the main head office and picking room while the secretary aviation Irfan Elahi offered joint action committee to come on table for negotiations on January 29.

The workers in Multan have also demonstrated protest and halted the booking and reservation procedure till February 02. The protesters chanted slogans against the authorities and raised placards and banners. They further warned of suspending the flight operation in case of not taking back the privatization bill.

Separately in Quetta, the employees hanged cargo, booking and courier services by threatening the higher officials to intensify the protest all across the country. They said that they will raise voice at every platform.

According to details, Pakistan plans to privatise its national carrier by July, following years of crushing losses and mismanagement that have battered the airline’s reputation.

The government over in December last year converted PIA s state-owned status to a “commercial entity” through an ordinance, but stopped short of announcing its privatisation plans.

That move sparked a fierce backlash among many of PIA s 15,000 employees, who rallied at major airports across the country. PIA’s cumulative losses were 227 billion rupees ($2.2 billion) as of June 2014. The government had to inject 12 to 15 billion rupees annually to keep the airline alive and pay employees.

PIA, one of the world s leading airlines until the 1970s, now suffers from frequent cancellations and delays and has been involved in numerous controversies over the years, including the jailing of a drunk pilot in Britain in 2013.

It has also faced problems acquiring security clearances to the European Union for cargo flights. The airline has also traditionally handed out tens of thousands of free tickets each year, contributing to its losses.


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