LAHORE - PIAC, a statutory semi-autonomous state corporation with total accumulated losses of over Rs.161 billion and every month costing the national exchequer another Rs 3 billion, is without a functional Board of Directors headed by a Chairman for almost 80 days. In the interim period many irregular appointments have been made although under PIAC Act 1956 (amended thereafter) all powers to decide policy matters, make appointments, promotions etc is sole prerogative of BoD, which is incomplete without a Chairman. Yet there have been controversial appointments made of a Matriculate as DMD, controversial Directors and GM in the airline, in violation of merit and rules of corporation. The only change witnessed is that high school cronies of President Zardari having filled their pockets were replaced by another set of cronies with almost same qualifications to head same team of incompetent officers, constantly working to the detriment of PIA.

All of them have things in common like a foreign nationality, expertise in irregularities and indulgence in financial and administrative indiscipline.

The instruments placed to stop pilferage of revenues, facilitate boosting of sales and provide consumer-friendly reservation and ticket bookings for computer literate clients have been subjected to hurdles by the nexus within PIA, which is bent upon creating cartels and artificial shortage of seats, to mint billions, while PIA, its customers and tax payer who own the airline are losers.  The Revenue Management System (RMS) and acquiring Global Distribution System from ABACUSS were the tools using latest aviation information technology available in the industry to achieve for PIA much needed revenues. The first target was RMS which was infiltrated by vested interests within PIA Marketing during 2008 to 2011, by deliberately suspending the system to enable few select travel agents to block revenue seats prior to announcement of increased seasonal fares for Umra and Haj, creating a cartel of sorts, and an artificial shortage, which was then exploited to extract a premium over and above the high fares, whilst PIA got just the low fares and bad publicity. Crores of rupees were pocketed by few of blue-eyed executives during tenure of Capt Aijaz Haroon and Nadeem Yusafzai and those involved included Director Marketing and GM who were spared and later promoted as DMD by former Chairman Ahmed Mukhtar.

PIA has been fined hundreds of thousands of British Pound by London High Court by the beneficiaries of a cartel of select travel agents created by the controversial MD Aijaz Haroon and his Director Marketing Imran Khan. The joint venture between ABACUSS and PIA signed ten years ago is surprisingly being terminated, just when it was time for PIA to reap the benefit.

According to this agreement ABACUSS was given management for first ten years and for every ticket sold they were getting a commission of $6 and now at the end of this 10 year period, it was PIA’s turn to pocket commission on sale of every seat sold by travel agents using GDS facility of ABACUSS. By virtue of this agreement every travel agent could have access to PIA reservation and booking system by directly purchasing tickets through credit card payments, which were directly credited to PIA bank account. Previously PIA had to provide travel agents with either tickets or system installed at its own expense to select travel agents, which lead to revenue leakages, defaults in payment and fewer sale of tickets because of limited number of travel agents having access to system.

The delay by PML-N government to provide a capable and highly qualified CEO with integrity has only led to increase in mismanagement and many controversial appointments, which lack legitimacy, in the absence of a Chairman and fully constituted 8-member Board of Directors as required by PIAC Act.