ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Monday directed the defence secretary to submit his report on the appointment of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) chairman and MD on January 14.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, hearing the petition of PML-N leaders regarding corruption in PIA, observed that not a single matter in the national flag carrier was done transparently and according to the rules

PML-N leaders, Marvi Memon and Zafar Iqbal Jhagra, moved a petition in the Supreme Court in August 2012, seeking direction to investigate the affairs of the PIA in depth to identify corruption, mismanagement, inefficiencies and lack of competent staff.

The chief justice in the order asked the Defence Ministry and the PIA chairman to inform the court why a permanent chairman and MD PIA were not appointed by following due procedures. He called it one of the key reasons for the deteriorating situation of the national flag carrier. The chief justice also pointed out that due procedure had never been followed in PIA while appointing GSA and PSA agents abroad and in Pakistan, respectively. “After reviewing the ground realities, it is not difficult to understand as to why PIA’s condition is deteriorating day by day,” the CJP remarked.

“Despite such a worse situation in PIA, the authorities are still least interested in improving its conditions. It seems no serious effort has been made to appoint a full-time chairman and MD to improve the deteriorating situation of PIA,” he observed.

The court was told by counsel for PIA, Raja Bashir, and PIA General Manager Marketing Saleem Raza that the national flag carrier had suffered a loss of around Rs 100 billion at the end of 2011. In pursuance of the court orders, the counsel for PIA produced a fax of roster of pilots and co-pilots and sought more time to file a comprehensive report.

The chief justice said the losses in PIA were likely to reach Rs 150 billion this year. The bench was told that out of 38 planes only 28 planes were operational in 37 destinations. Earlier, the international destinations were 45 which decreased to 37 for lack of business. The court was surprised to know that there were over 18,000 permanent and contract employees in PIA, in addition to daily wagers for 28 flights. It was also surprising for the court that 551 pilots had been hired for 28 flights. The court directed the PIA management to present the latest report of CAA on PIA on the next hearing.

Citing the Transparency International (TI) report over PIA’s deteriorating situation, the chief justice said, “No one is interested in taking measures to improve the worst situation of the national flag carrier”.

Justice Azmat Saeed questioned who the MD of the airlines last year was and where he was working right now. The PIA officials told the court that he was now working for theTurkish Airlines. The hearing was adjourned till January 14.