Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is the national flag-carrier of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has become a national burden. Once amongst the top international lines of the world, PIA assisted to establish Emirates, a Dubai based airline, by providing technical and administrative support to the Emirates’ staff in its academy. And now, Emirates stands at the world’s fourth-largest airline, in terms of international passengers carried.
Competent administration and keeping up with the market needs and trends are two main factors which contribute towards any successful business, but PIA is unfortunate in this regard, and it can be observed in the case of PIA, which has been operating most of its routes on losses, and its business model and operations are not capable of making profits.
Looking into the worst situation of the national flag-carrier, Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Saqib Nisar took suo motu notice on irregularities in PIA and ordered the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) to conduct an audit of the accounts of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) for the last 10 years. During the hearing, the chief justice remarked that the purpose of conducting audit was to identify those who were responsible for causing Rs. 280 billion losses to the airline during the last 10 years. For sure political interferences could not be overlooked in the affairs of PIA.
According to PIA report submitted in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, PIA has accumulated losses of Rs. 356 billion including the loss incurred in 2017 with the total liabilities amounting to Rs. 406 billion against assets of only Rs111 billion. And sadly PIA is only able to continue operating due to the government’s financial support.
PIA has fetched many glories in the ground of aviation since its foundation. It was the first Asian airline to fly Lockheed Super Constellation. It was the second Asian airline to acquire a Boeing-707, a jet aircraft. The airline introduced its first trans-Atlantic route, Karachi to New York via London.
It is now seems that PIA as an organisation operates like an outdated government department rather than a modern business. Political appointments, Poor management decisions, poor HR practices, launch of competitors in the airline business, de-motivated staff, political interference, revenue leakages and poor interdepartmental coordination are the major reasons of PIA decline. Our political leadership must provide highest level of commitment, put national interest above personal interests to strengthen PIA.
It is alarming that once one of the best airlines of the world is now facing losses of billions.