KARACHI: The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is working on a plan to induct new blood and lay off unqualified employees in a bid to turn around the loss-making national carrier, officials said Thursday.
“Rightsizing is desperately needed in PIA,” spokesman Danyal Gilan said in reply to media queries.
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The airline was reviewing the number of employees required for its current fleet and operations. “However, the exact number of excess employees has yet to be calculated,” he said.
“The PIA management is aiming to appoint the most suitable professionals for every position.” For this purpose, new recruitments would also be done “soon” particularly for pilots, flight attendants and cabin crew, he said.
At present, PIA employs around 18,000 people for a fleet of 37 aircraft.
An official of the airlines, who asked not to be named, said out of a total 37 aircraft, some 34 to 35 remain in operation.
This means that around 500 staffers are employed for each aircraft for operations in PIA against the global best practice of employing around 200 employees per aircraft.
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He said PIA had not outsourced a single department so far as it managed its own kitchen, engineering department and hotels. “Many airlines around the world have outsourced some departments to keep complete focus on their core business of flying passengers,” he said.
Even if the number of outsourced employees were to be included in the calculations, the world’s best performing airlines still employ fewer employees than PIA.
He said that a study was under way to determine how many employees would be recruited and how many would be fired. “The timeline to do this is yet to be determined. However, it will be done soon,” he said.
He said the process was aimed at making the airlines more professional and commercially viable.
“The layoffs would be made in the departments that are overstaffed,” he said.
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“It is premature to say whether the airlines would introduce an early retirement scheme to lay off surplus staffers,” he replied.
In August 2016, PIA had already recruited 100 fresh employees to serve passengers on premier flights started in the same month on Islamabad/Lahore-and-London routes.
The upgraded service was launched after acquisition of one wide-bodied A330-330 on wet lease from Sri Lanka in July 2016. The airlines may hire more employees ahead of the launch of premier flights to/from London from other cities of Pakistan. Besides, the national carrier is also considering operating the upgraded flights on other international routes like Pakistan-China one. Premier flights on more routes would begin with the arrival of two more A330-330 from Sri Lanka on wet lease by Feb 2017.
PIA reported a net loss of Rs20.55 billion for the nine-month period ended September 30, 2015.
Courtesy : Express Tribune