PIA hires pilots on contract after standoff with PALPA
The PIA on Tuesday said it had hired pilots on contract basis after PALPA (Pakistan Air Line Pilots Association) refused to operate the flights over the coronavirus issue.
According to a PIA spokesperson, the newly-hired pilots had operated the flights for the UK on Tuesday, who were provided with complete safety kits, reported a private TV channel.
Earlier in the day, a special PIA flight planned to bring the stranded Pakistanis from Iraq was cancelled after pilots’ refusal to take part in the operation.
Similarly, the PIA had to cancel three flights – two for Gilgit and one for Skardu – on Monday.
The move came as 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.
It noted that the management had been regularly informed about the failure to implement the SOPs set by Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and PIA, adding that the CAA had become a silent spectator during the ongoing crisis.
The letter said the mismanagement and negligence of PIA had compromised the health and safety of passengers and flight crew.