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All PIA pilots want to quite: CAA DG claims

ISLAMABAD: The director general of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) told a Senate panel on Thursday that all Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) pilots wanted to leave the national airline.

CAA DG Khaqan Murtaza explained the reason for this to the Senate Standing Committee on Aviation, saying that a 35% tax was deducted from pilot salaries.

He went on to say that there was also a tax imposed on pilots’ flying hours.

“Most of the time, when you hear about flight cancellations, it’s because there aren’t enough pilots,” he explained.

Senator Hidayatullah, chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Aviation, presided over the meeting at Parliament House.

Senator Mohsin Aziz, a panel member, wondered if the PIA would ever be profitable in their lifetimes.

PIA CEO Air Vice Marshal Muhammad Amir Hayat responded that the national carrier was profitable.

Senator Aziz instructed him to inform the panel about the airline’s overall profit, not just its operational profit.

“Where does the loss of billions of rupees every year come from?” the senator asked.

The PIA CEO then moved on to the topic of pilot licenses.

He claimed there were 141 pilots with dubious licenses.

He went on to say that 69 of them had been cleared.

The CAA DG informed the panel that action would be taken against those who obtained fraudulent licenses as well as those who assisted them.

He went on to say that the issue was exaggerated when former aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan claimed on the floor of the National Assembly that 40% of PIA pilots had questionable licenses.

The statement came in the aftermath of a fatal plane crash in Karachi on May 22, 2020.

Senator Sherry Rehman agreed during the Senate panel huddle that the PIA’s problems, including a ban on its flights by Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States, began with the former minister’s statement.

The PIA’s problems were also brought up in the National Assembly.

Saira Bano, MNA of the Grand Democratic Alliance, also stated that a 35% to 40% tax was deducted from the salaries of the national carrier’s pilots.

She went on to say that 20 pilots had already left the PIA, with some of them not being retired.

Bano insisted that PIA pilots were working beyond their scheduled hours, which was risky.

She went on to say that pilots’ peace of mind could help prevent accidents.

The GDA lawmaker insisted that a pilot shortage would have an impact on the next Hajj operation.

A treasury member mocked her, saying she should sell her watch for the sake of PIA pilots, an apparent reference to PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s Toshakhana (gift depository) case.

Bano responded that it was the current rulers who had sold the Toshakhana watches and ruined the country.

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