Secretary Defense and Chairman PIA has approved raise in salaries by 45 percent from Group 1 to 4 effective 01 Jan 2012.There is no doubt the increase was overdue but is this an appropriate time to increase salaries when PIA owes billions of rupees to PSO and CAA? The increase at a time when PIA is facing delay in flights, cancellation of flights, technical faults, poor passenger handling, growing complaints by stranded passengers etc, all this and more proves this action is not in good faith.

The Chairman rightly deserves appreciation for timely increase to overcome the above issues, as an increase in salary will improve the performance of the staff and speed up operations of our national carrier. This is a great feat when PIA is sinking. Three things stand out very clearly, the first being CAA’s performance, its functions as a regulator department that checks the air worthiness of aircrafts, needs complete overhauling. So many faulty aircrafts have been allowed to fly risking hundreds of lives proving the inefficiency of CAA. Secondly, there has been an increase in the bird hits causing damage to the aircrafts. CAA is responsible to ensure that no birds are seen in the funnel area while landing and taking off. Thirdly, strict control over commercialization around airports and ensuring that parameters spelt out for obtaining NOC are strictly followed.

PIA has accumulated losses over Rs 150 billion. PSO, the main supplier of fuel has stopped their supplies unless outstanding dues are cleared. When private airlines can make profits why can’t our national carrier stand on its own two feet?

The only solution is major surgery; first and foremost is to ban the unions immediately for a period of at least two years, secondly reduction in employees by 50 percent and finally appointment of professionals to run the airline instead of giving these technical and professional jobs as favours to friends. It’s time to wake up before it is too late

MUKHTAR AHMED,

Karachi, February 14.