Flight operation resumes as PIA, pilots reach agreement

By: News Desk      Published: 04:40 PM, 7 Apr, 2020
Flight operation resumes as PIA, pilots reach agreement
PAF chief offers C-130 to help in PIA operations.

After a series of conflicting reports, the PIA management and PALPA (Pakistan Air Line Pilots Association) on Tuesday afternoon finally reached an agreement after hectic talks to end the strike triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

The agreement signed by the PIA management and the PALPA vice-president, which is available with 24NewsHD TV channel, says the airlines would be bound to provide the entire protective gear.

It also reads that the flight captain will inform about the safety situation and the plane will not take off in case the precautionary measures aren’t complete and the captain is not satisfied.

Moreover, the pilots will have to operate all the scheduled and special flights while pilot must inform the management in case he or she doesn’t want to fly the flight because of coronavirus-related issues.

Earlier, Pakistan Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan extended a helping hand to the PIA following the pilots’ refusal to fly planes, as he handed over a C-130 plane to the airline to help tackle the crisis.

The move came after the PIA management and PALPA failed to produce any result.

The C-130 plane was supposed to carry 13 pilots to Islamabad from Karachi on Tuesday night and also bring back the Pakistanis stranded abroad.

Earlier, TV channels reported that the talks between the PIA management and the Pakistan Air Line Pilots Association (PALPA) had been successful after which a Toronto-bound flight will leave Lahore at 5:30pm.

The development came after three flights were cancelled because of the boycott announced by PALPA. The cancelled flights included Flight No PK791 for Birmingham which was supposed to carry the British citizens stranded in Pakistan and Flight No PK9813 planned to bring the stranded Pakistanis from Baghdad, Iraq. Similarly, the Lahore-Toronto flight PK783 was cancelled.

However, British High Commissioner Christian Turner, in a tweet, said he held a meeting with the PIA CEO to discuss the issue of talks between the management and the pilots.

Meanwhile, the UK High Commisison said the PIA was still trying to operate two flights.

Earlier in the day, it was reported that the PIA had hired pilots on contract basis after PALPA refused to operate the flights over the coronavirus issue.

According to a spokesperson, the newly-hired pilots had operated a flight for the UK on Tuesday, who were provided with complete safety kits.

The PALPA had advised the pilots on April 5 not to operate any flight until further notice in order to express resentment over compromising safety and violation of the SOP to avoid the coronavirus threat during recently operated humanitarian flights by PIA.

The advice was issued after four flight crew members were stopped at the Karachi airport on their return from London and tested for the coronavirus. However, they had tested negative.

The move on the part of the Sindh government infuriated the PALPA, resulting in boycotting the flight operations.

Even PIA CEO Air Marshal Arshad Malik said the crew members had gone through unfair treatment, as they were national heroes.

Later on Monday, the PALPA wrote a letter to Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar and threatened to withdraw all cooperation with the PIA management if the federal minister did not intervene to ensure safety measures for the flight crew.

The PALPA said the crew was being exposed to a very dangerous situation with far-reaching effects on the health of not only the pilots but also their families.

The letter said the mismanagement and negligence of PIA had compromised the health and safety of passengers and flight crew.