Palpa withdraws from PIA strike, pilots asked to resume duties
KARACHI: The Pakistan Air Lines Pilots Association (Palpa) announced its withdrawal from the strike against government's proposed plan to privatise the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Saturday, with the organisation head directing pilots to resume their duties.
"At least 410 out of 430 pilots in Palpa are in favour of resumption of flight operations," said Palpa President Amir Hashmi
He said PIA pilots are ready to provide their services but they should be provided adequate security as "we are receiving threats from the protesters".
Hashmi said Palpa members were a part of the protest from the beginning but never supported the idea of a complete strike "which can have serious consequences on an airline which is already sinking".
"Pilots are part of a professional body ... we are not a political party," he said, adding that the PIA strike had turned into a political arena.
Hashmi said Palpa stopped flight operations only when "water cannons, baton charge and marches became part of the protest".
"It was not possible to continue flight operations at a time when the situation was so charged."
The pilots community opposes privatisation because the they think PIA can continue to function if "apt professionals manage it", Hashmi said.
He said the association has written a letter to director general flight operations with commitment to resume flights on the condition that pilots are provided security.
PIA's flight operations remain suspended on Saturday, when the country-wide strike entered its fifth consecutive day, with the national flag carrier incurring an estimated loss of over Rs2 billion since the announcement of strike.
Although Minister of State/Chairman Privatisation Commission Mohammad Zubair met the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of PIA employees in Karachi on Friday and both sides called the talks “meaningful”, the JAC vowed to continue protest and keep flight operations suspended till a satisfactory agreement was reached with the government.
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