SC upholds ban on replacement of flag with Markhor on PIA aircraft

June 30, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Saturday directed the Auditor General of Pakistan to complete an audit of the loss-making Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and submit a report within ten weeks.

Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, a bench of the apex court was hearing a case with regard to the replacement of the Pakistani flag on the tail of PIA aircraft with the picture of markhor.

The bench restrained the PIA management from painting the picture of markhor on aircraft. Justice Nisar pointed out that PIA accumulated losses of Rs280 billion over the past ten years and that its total losses stood at Rs360 billion.

He remarked that if there is a loss there must be causes of it and the people responsible for it. Former aviation adviser Sardar Mehtab  Abbasi said the Auditor General lacked the capacity to carry out an audit of the corporation and called for an audit by professionals.

At this, top judge asked him, “Sardar Mehtab, what experience have you of running an airline? How can you say the Auditor General is not capable enough to conduct an audit of an airline?” Addressing Abbasi, Justice Nisar remarked he was removed as a Governor, then appointed as an adviser and now even deprived of an election ticket. Upon this, the latter clarified he was not removed, but he himself quit the office of Governor.

A day earlier, a 23-page report was submitted to the apex court by the PIA management. It blamed the vested interest for the losses PIA has been incurring and added opponents in unions and other elements act against the interests of the airline.

Such elements are obstructing the enforcement of steps and decisions taken or intended to be taken by the management for its progress, transformation and reclamation of its lost glory.

The management requested the top court to allow it to execute and implement commercial decisions about the planned change in the livery and re-branding of PIA as approved by its board of directors.

The board has approved the picture of markhor as a symbol of PIA’s revival, which it said was an integral part of the transformation and turn-around strategy.

The PIA management told the court that it had accumulated losses of Rs356 billion till 2017 and its balance sheet is very weak with total liabilities to the tune of Rs406 billion against assets of Rs111 billion.

The airline is continuing its operation because of government’s financial support, the report said. NNI