ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Aviation Shujaat Azeem has said that the strength of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) fleet was being raised to expand its flight operation.
Some 15 aircraft had already been added in the fleet of 37 and with addition of five more by the current year end, the total strength would become 42, he said while talking to a private news channel. He said that revival of the national airline was the vision of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had entrusted that task to him.
Azeem said that collective wisdom was needed to run the airline. For the first time a professional board had been constituted. Moreover, competent people were being hired, including some Germans in the marketing department. He said that more than 300 employees holding fake degrees had been terminated.
Replying to a question, he said that the age of an operational aircraft had been reduced to nine years from 14, which would be further decreased to six. Azeem said that after lapse of 15 years, an aviation policy was being fomulated on the directives of the prime minister. Under the policy, investment in the sector would be exempted from tax. Only the revenue generated would be taxed, he said.
He said that facilities such as Internet and Wi-Fi would also be introduced in PIA’s flights. The special assistant said that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) was working to provide best facilities to the passengers at airports. He said that for the first time in the country’s history, fog lights were being installed at airports which would work in the radius of 50 meters even in zero visibility. The initiative would help smooth flight operation during bad weather, he said.
To a query, Azeem said the Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (PALPA) was a welfare organisation which should work for the progress of the PIA rather halting the flight operation for their personal demands. He said that the government was committed to address genuine concerns of the pilots and other employees but they also should perform duties with dedication. He said that salary of the grade I to IV had been increased by around 55 per cent despite the fact that the airline was facing financial problems.