Pakistan mulls steps to save ailing national airline

August 7th, 2009 - 4:36 am ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Aug 6 (IANS) Coming to the aid of Pakistan’s cash-strapped national carrier, Pakistan Internatinoal Airlines (PIA), a parliamentary committee has called for urgent steps to arrest the declining trends in the airline, Online news agency reported Thursday.
“With the total accumulated losses standing at colossal Rs. 142 billion, some serious thinking has to be done and difficult decisions have to be taken before we can think of bringing the Corporation back from precipice,” the Senate Standing Committee on Defence and Defence Production, which met at the Parliament House Thursday evening, said.

Stressing that urgents steps required to revive the deteriorating fiancial health of the airline, the committee directed the senior management of PIA to come out with a “comprehensive bailout package” not only for survival as a viable financial entity but also as a prestigious national organisation.

The committee also stated that the deteriorating service standards, non serious attitude of officers and staff, late and partial redressal of grievances are some of the major complaints which plague PIA.

“It has been observed that often half the plane is vacant when the general public has been informed that no more seats are available. Being frequent travelers senators have observed this phenomenon almost routinely,” it said.

The chairman of the committee, Lt. Gen. (Retired) Javed Ashraf, said that the senate body wanted to help PIA stage a turn around provided it has some sound, viable and practical bail out plan.

“Give us some time limit and a practical plan that you would be able to wriggle out of the present difficulties and we will extend our all out support,” he said.

PIA officials blamed the Rs.61 billion loan the airline had taken from local banks at a high rate of interest as the root cause of its problems.

Captain Ijaz Haroon, the Managing Director of PIA, has already admitted that the airlines has technically gone bankrupt.

“I concede that PIA has technically gone bankrupt. But all this did not happen in a day or overnight or a month or a year and a half. The airlines had technically gone bankrupt since 2000,” Haroon said in a Geo News programme last Monday.

He said that PIA suffered a loss of Rs.13 billion in 2001 and the government injected a handsome amount which reduced the losses till 2004. But the government has not been providing credible financial support since 2005, pushing the institution towards bankruptcy, he added.

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