Pakistan International Airlines and its disappearing crew members highlight the rot in South Asian nation

In February this year, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) cabin crew member  Maryam Raza arrived in Toronto from Islamabad but never returned back to her nation.

Two days back, another flight attendant of the country’s national carrier went missing after reaching the Canadian city.

Both incidents have a strong connection and they highlight the disgrace and falling reputation of the state-run PIA.

In February, Maryam Raza’s letter addressed to PIA officials had gone viral. She had written  ‘Thank you, PIA’ in her letter which was found by authorities from her hotel room in Toronto after she did not join her duty.

Both Raza and the latest flight attendant who went missing, identified as Noor Sher, have been serving PIA for more than 10 years. Yet, they decided to leave PIA and even their country.

Noor and Raza are among the fourteen PIA crew members who have decided to voluntarily disappear after landing in Toronto.

Pakistani authorities have claimed that this trend is due to the flexible Canadian law where asylum is offered to them once they arrive in the nation.

Everything seems to be going wrong with PIA, the national carrier which is also facing the threat of privatisation.

PIA  flights to European countries were banned for four years and news pouring in now says the national airline continues to fail to demonstrate effective compliance with the stringent safety standards mandated by the European Union (EU).

A spokesperson for the European Commission has provided detailed reasons for maintaining the ban, citing PIA’s ongoing inability to comply with essential safety protocols, reported The News International.

These protocols encompass operational safety, maintenance practices, and regulatory oversight, it said.

“All Pakistani airlines, including PIA, are required to implement corrective measures to address deficiencies in their safety management systems,” stated the spokesperson, according to the report.

The European Commission also asked the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of Pakistan to enhance its monitoring capabilities.

Presently, no Pakistani airline, including PIA, is listed on the EU’s air safety list, indicating significant concerns over regulatory compliance, the report said.

The steps taken by the crew members not only highlight how they desperately want to escape their nation to ensure a better life and job opportunity in Canada but also the way Pakistan is failing as a country to provide a secure future to its citizens.

The incidents display the inefficiency of PIA in holding back its employees who have been serving it for more than a decade.

Absence of crew members and sudden disappearance also hinders the proper functioning of the airline and creates troubles for its passengers who can no more bank on their operations for future air travels.

An Editorial published in Pakistan’s leading daily The Express Tribune said: “PIA’s image has already been severely damaged by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) suspending its licence over safety concerns in 2020. The suspension followed revelations of fraudulent pilot licences and inadequate safety protocols, leading to a flight ban in several European countries.”

In this age of aviation competition from private players and other international majors, PIA is indeed gasping to provide service to its customers and employees alike.

“Locally, PIA is no stranger to criticism. Passengers frequently complain about delays, poor in-flight services and subpar customer service. The lack of punctuality has become a norm, causing significant inconvenience to travellers,” the Express Tribune editorial mentioned about the falling reputation of the airlines.

The newspaper also urged for an immediate and comprehensive reform that can save the airlines from its present disgrace in the world aviation scenario.

It is still not clear whether PIA is moving towards privatization but the airline needs to improve internal and external issues with a renewed focus on making  service quality appreciable and secure the future of its employees to survive the current tide of disrepute.



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