1,700 employees per aircraft? It has to be PIA – Now on the block

Dino D'Amore
By Dino D'Amore October 6, 2014 16:08

1,700 employees per aircraft? It has to be PIA – Now on the block

Pakistan plans to break-up Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) into two companies, one for the ground handling/catering etc, which will remain government owned under a holding company, while control of the airline would be sold off to a “global airline” during the next 18 months. Talks are said to be currently ongoing including with, we are told by PIA senior staff, although not confirmed by the other airline – Etihad. Emirates was also mentioned.
We can put the current state of affairs at PIA into context very easily with this line: PIA has some 17,000 employees for just 10 aircraft currently in service with 26 aircraft grounded providing spare parts.

Now 1,700 employees per aircraft has got to be an industry record and it means that any airline gaining control of any part of the airline can at speed make very deep cuts in staffing levels to get the airline back on course. There is no question that the Pakistan government could turn the airline around but given the political situation in Pakistan no politician wants to lay off more than 10,000 employees while PIA aircraft are being shot at upon take-off and landing at several airfields across the country.  Successive Pakistani governments have manipulated PIA for political gain over the years, in the process swelling the workforce. It has been stated in Islamabad that the holding company will take-on any employees of the airline that are laid off – a political hedge paving the way for the sell-off has already been made so parliament can approve legislation allowing it to pass into private hands.

But who will want PIA? Etihad takes-on anything bad these days and has a knack of turning them around but would any other airline have the stomach for this challenge? It seems unlikely.

Dino D'Amore
By Dino D'Amore October 6, 2014 16:08