PIA suspends all domestic, international flights as strike continues

PIA suspends all domestic, international flights as strike continues

Two dead, several injured in clashes at Karachi airport as PIA strike enters second day

KARACHI – Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has suspended its all domestic and international flights on Wednesday, airport officials said, as the strike resulting from employees’ protest against the national carrier’s proposed privatization entered its second day.

PIA employees resumed their protest, which came as the federal government invoked the Essential Services (Maintenance) Act, 1952, in the PIA for six months, outside major airports across the country.

PIA representatives at Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport, Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport and Peshawar’s Bacha Khan International Airport confirmed that all domestic and international flights scheduled were cancelled.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesman Pervez George told that the authority has requested private carrier Air blue to schedule additional flights between major cities to accommodate passengers after cancellation of PIA flights.

Two demonstrators were shot dead and several more were wounded at Karachi’s international airport when clashes broke out between security forces and staff from the national airline protesting privatization plans, officials said.

Dr Seemi Jamali, a spokeswoman for the government-run Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center, told the hospital had received a total of 10 wounded, one of whom later died.

‘The PIA employee was brought dead to our emergency department and our team attempted to revive him for 20 minutes, identifying the deceased as Inayat Raza,’ she told.

Another employee, who had also been shot, was taken to the private Aga Khan University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Police used water cannons and teargas to keep the crowd from approaching the city’s Jinnah International Airport before shots were fired.

PIA employees shout slogans as police use a water cannon on them during a protest near the Karachi airport.

PIA employees shout slogans as police use a water cannon on them during a protest near the Karachi airport

PIA Chairman Nasser Jaffer announced that he has resigned from his post following the death of two employees.

PIA Joint Action Committee (JAC) spokesman Nasrullah Khan said employees had resumed protest outside all major airports in the country and there has been no change in their demands.

PIA employees’ four-point agenda:

  • Government should immediately take back the bill passed on January 21 converting the national flag carrier into a public limited company.
  • PIA’s employees be provided a chance to reform the airline. If the employees fail to do so, the government will have the freedom to do whatever it finds suitable.
  • Privatization, in any form, whether it is in form of a strategic partner or selling of 36 per cent or 1pc of the organisation’s shares, is not acceptable to the employees.
  • Government should immediately review the aviation policy and form a committee for this purpose comprising members from PIA employees’ JAC along with PIA experts Khursheed Anwar, Kamran Hasan and Salahuddin.

PM Nawaz said passengers face hardships due to the airline’s poor service and the poor condition of its fleet. He said the protesting employees would face action, and warned them of termination from service and a year in prison under the essential services act.

The premier, however, added that the PIA employees who were not part of the protest campaign would be rewarded.

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