PIA suffers massive loss due to strike

Flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has incurred an estimated loss of about $17 million since last week as angry employees protested against a proposed plan to privatise the carrier, an official said on Thursday.

As demonstrations against privatisation plans continued for the third day in many cities, PIA spokesman Danyal Gilani told Dawn online over 150 flights have been cancelled in the past three days of the strike.

Gilani said between January 26, when the strike was announced and February 2, when a demonstration outside Karachi airport turned bloody as two PIA employees were shot dead, the airline suffered a loss of Rs.1 billion.

Most people had cancelled their bookings because of reports about the strike, the spokesman said.

Gilani said PIA is in final stages of negotiations with Etihad Airways and Turkish Airlines to facilitate passengers booked to travel internationally. The services of a private carrier are being used to accommodate passengers booked on domestic flights.

The National Assembly on January 21 witnessed the passage of six bills, including one to convert the national flag carrier into a public limited company.

Under the bill, Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (PIAC) is to be converted into a public limited company as Pakistan International Airlines Company Limited (PIACL).

The government plans to split the ailing national flag carrier PIA into two companies and sell the control of its core business to a global airline, but the opposition to the sell-off has been intense.

But representatives of PIA employees announced on Sunday their opposition to the government’s privatisation plan, saying they would continue their strike and brought flight operations to a halt from Tuesday if their demands are not met.

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