Breaking News Pakistan: Many pilots, flight crew and ground staff of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) went on a strike on Tuesday to protest against a proposed code-share agreement with Turkish Airlines.
The protesting employees are also demanding the sacking of PIA’s managing director, Aijaz Haroon, an airline pilot considered a close friend of President Asif Ali Zardari.
“The strike continues, and it will continue until the (managing director) goes,” Uzair Khan, joint secretary of the Pakistan Airline Pilots’ Association (PALPA), told Reuters.
Under the proposed deal with Turkish Airlines, which is yet to be approved by the government and regulators, PIA would relinquish some of its lucrative European and US routes.
This includes flights to Germany, Spain, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Chicago and New York.
According to a joint action committee of PIA employees, handing over these profitable routes will deprive the national airline of billions of rupees in revenue.
PIA spokesman Mashhood Tajwar said 33 domestic and international flights were cancelled on Thursday. About 100 have been cancelled since the strike began on Tuesday.
Dozens of other flights were delayed, leaving thousands of passengers stranded at airports around the country.
“Managing director must go”
Like many state businesses in Pakistan, PIA has been hit hard by mounting debts and mismanagement. Analysts say any move on part of the government to further subsidise PIA or other ailing national institutions will not bode well with international donors.