ISLAMABAD: The director general of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Thursday told a Senate panel that major tax cuts had made all pilots of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to so worried that they wanted to quit the national carrier.
Explaining the reason for this to the Senate Standing Committee on Aviation, CAA DG Khaqan Murtaza said massive tax cuts were the major reason as around 35% tax was deducted from the salaries of the pilots. He added that in addition to that, there was a tax imposed on flying hours of pilots too.
“Most of the times you hear about flight cancellations, the reason for this is the shortage of pilots,” he continued.
The meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Aviation was held at the Parliament House, presided over by its chairman, Senator Hidayatullah.
Senator Mohsin Aziz, a member of the panel, inquired that the PIA would ever turn profitable in their lifetimes. PIA CEO Air Vice Marshal Muhammad Amir Hayat replied that the national carrier was making operational profit.
Senator Aziz told him to inform the panel about the overall profit of the airline, and not just that of its operational. “Where does the loss of billions of rupees come from every year?” the senator added.
The PIA CEO then switched to the subject of pilots’ licences. He said there were 141 pilots with questionable licences. He added that 69 of them had been cleared.
The CAA DG told the panel that action was being taken against those who had acquired fake licences as well as those who assisted them.
He continued that the issue was blown out of proportion when former aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had claimed on the floor of the National Assembly that 40% of the PIA pilots had dubious licences. The minister’s statement came in the wake of a fatal plane crash in Karachi on May 22, 2020.
During the Senate panel huddle, Senator Sherry Rehman agreed that the PIA’s troubles including a ban on its flights by Europe, UK and US began because of the former minister’s statement. The problems faced by the PIA was also raised in the National Assembly.
Grand Democratic Alliance MNA Saira Bano also pointed out that 35% to 40% tax was deducted from the salaries of the national carrier’s pilots.
She added that 20 pilots had already left the PIA while some of them were not being retired. Bano maintained that PIA pilots were working beyond their scheduled hours, and that was dangerous.
She continued that pilots’ peace of mind could prevent accidents. The GDA lawmaker maintained that the shortage of pilots would affect the next Hajj operation.
A treasury member taunted her by saying that she should sell her watch for the sake of the PIA pilots — an indirect reference to PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s Toshakhana (gift depository) case.
Bano replied that it was the current rulers who had sold the watches from the Toshakhana and ruined the country.__Pakistan Today