LAHORE - The government has planned to induct about 10 aircraft in the newly set up airline, Pakistan Airways , which will initially cover key international destinations. Their exact number is, however, not clear.

It is worth mentioning here that international slots and traffic rights are unlisted but most costly assets of any airline, well placed sources in the PIA told The Nation.

Sources claimed that PIA has grandfather rights over these slots and routes which it has acquired after a long period of time. They said, “A single slot at Heathrow airport costs 25 to 30 million pounds.”

They said that for the lease of aircraft and other expenses, Pakistan government will finance and give sovereign guarantee to the leasing company concerned.

A senior PIA officer, seeking anonymity, said the new airline would be controlled and managed by a different management. The airline’s per aircraft employees ratio would not be more than 150.

Some retired and senior PIA officers believed the government was going to ruin the national flag carrier with such decisions.

They said, “Merely acquiring new aircraft does not make an airline nor can it ensure the profitability of an airline.

What makes an airline profitable is quality of service it offers at an affordable and competitive air fare, reliable schedule and flight regularity”. In addition, an airline should have its sound reservation system since the passengers who have the facility of sitting at home and buying tickets on internet will hesitate to go and stand in queues to buy tickets of an airline like PIA, they added.

Apart from this, there is political involvement in PIA and transfers/postings are being made on political recommendations, ignoring merit.

They pointed out that immediately after PML-N took over, Passports and Visa Facilitation Manager Rashidullah was given backdated promotion and posted as country manager, America, though he had no experience or qualification in marketing or sales department. “His only qualification was that he was a younger brother of PML-N Senator Mushahidullah Khan, former PIA trade union leader,” the sources added. Sajidullah, another younger brother of Mushahidullah, was also given backdated promotion and posted as station manger London. He had previously been posted as station manger Washington during the previous tenure of Nawaz Sharif. Another crony of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Ishtiaq Lone who had faced grievous charges of irregularities, was posted as station manger Manchester. Lone is going to retire after six months.

This practice went unchecked despite the fact that PIA rules do not allow posting of a person with less than three years remaining service. Rauf, also associated with Sharif family, was posted as manager Birmingham.

He was ‘obliged’ because his mother had served the Sharif family as an Islamic teacher for their children.

Matiullah and Majidullah, two other relatives of Mushahidullah, were also posted as station manger Paris and senior purser, respectively.