ISLAMABAD: Talks between the government and unions representing Pakistan International Airlines striking staff ended in deadlock. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) pilots, crew and ground staff downed tools on Monday morning, demanding to scrap a proposed agreement with Turkish Airlines, sack its managing director and reinstate colleagues put on leave.
The first attempt to negotiate a solution ended after two hours at Islamabad airport. “The talks have failed, there is a complete deadlock “The strike will continue until the government agreed to our demands” , union committee & PALPA leader Suhail Baluch told reporters.
Government negotiating team comprised of Khurshid Shah along with Qamar Zaman Kaira, said the talks had been “adjourned” but did not give any time frame for their resumption. Khurshid Shah while talking to media denied that the ailing state carrier had signed a deal with Turkish Airlines under which unions say PIA would surrender lucrative routes to Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and U.S. destinations New York and Chicago.
“I have told them there is no such agreement,” Shah said.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has called for a negotiated settlement “in the larger interest” of the national Airline, which last year asked the government to write off losses of $1.7 billion to save it from bankruptcy. PIA managing director Aijaz Haroon, told AFP that the management was working to restore flight operations as soon as possible. It is believed that PIA managing director Aijaz Haroon is close friend of President Asif Ali Zardari has been facing mounting pressures to resign.
Strike by the staff has resulted in losing $3 million of PIA, with company officials saying at least 30 flights had been canceled, including flights to Britain, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. Airline spokesman Mashhood Tajwar said about 5,000 travelers had been affected. Dozens of PIA staff blocked a road outside Islamabad airport on Wednesday, causing traffic mayhem and shouting slogans and denouncing the Turkish Airlines proposals. Passengers who turned up at the airport were left standing around complaining about the disruption.
“I’ve been waiting here for the last four hours. PIA people say the flight is okay, but the security people aren’t allowing us to proceed to check-in,”Gulfraz Majeed, a 52-year-old en route to the north of England, told AFP. “Once I reach Britain, I’m going to sue PIA and demand compensation. They’re bound to give us a hotel and alternate flight, but they haven’t bothered to offer us a single cup of tea,” Majeed said.-AFP