Aviation Secretary Mohammad Saqib Aziz informed Senate that PIA’s operational losses are Rs. 2 billion per month due to Pakistani rupee depreciation and rise in fuel prices.
PIA’s operational losses were in addition to liabilities of Rs 400 billion, including bank loans, he told the Senate Standing Committee on Aviation on Wednesday.
Over staffing is another major factor for PIA’s operational losses, Saqib Aziz added. Financial constraints caused by over staffing had in turn led to non-payment of salaries this month, he said.
“The matter has been taken up with the finance division and we hope that it will be settled soon.”
The Senate committee met for a briefing on various issues concerning aviation, particularly PIA, complications in its new software which was causing errors during bookings, problems faced by parliamentarians and allegations of money laundering by PIA officers.
Senator Hasil Khan Bizenjo inquired about time period of PIA’s operational losses. The secretary explained that a business plan to turn around the PIA had been shared with the previous government and it was still under process.
However, PML-N Senator Mushahidullah Khan, who chaired the Senate standing committee, intervened and attributed PIA’s operational losses to malpractices in purchase of spare parts for its fleet.
Over Staffing Adds to PIA’s Operational Losses
The meeting was informed that PIA was overstaffed — it had 13,500 regular employees and some 3,500 daily wagers. The ratio of workers per aircraft works out to 450.
The aviation secretary said if non-core staff such as catering, engineering and ground handling crew were separated from the core employees, the ratio of workers against one aircraft would come down to 135.
In the engineering section alone, PIA has more than 4,000 employees. Members were informed that the PIA employees had gone without salaries this month due to financial constraints.
The meeting was also informed that PIA spent roughly 18 per cent of the revenue on each staff member.
The committee chairman drew the secretary’s attention to recent reports alleging that the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSE) had declared PIA a defaulter.
Mr Aziz said the PSE had issued a warning after PIA management failed to present details of audited accounts and failed to hold its annual general meeting. However, he added: “The trading of PIA shares has not been suspended.”
The meeting was told that five out of the 33 aircraft in PIA fleet had been grounded for maintenance.