Govt questions PIA demand for $40m per year.

ISLAMABAD -- Questioning a demand by the Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (PIAC) for an annual financial support of $40 million for continuing its flight operations, the federal government informed the Supreme Court on Tuesday that it had provided the national flag carrier Rs114 billion since 2018.

Through its counsel Raja Salman Akram, PIA had sought the $40m financial support, as well as court's permission to immediately recruit 250 employees since the 2018 SC restriction on new appointments was hurting the organisation and resulting in an increase in average age of employees to 45.2 years.

A three-judge SC bench, headed by Justice Ijazul Ahsan, was seized with a case relating to national assets, including PIA, being sold at throwaway prices.

The apex court was also told that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had closed a case against former special adviser to the prime minister on aviation Shujaat Azeem since being employed on an honourary basis he did not receive any salary or enjoy perks during his stint.

Airline seeks SC permission to immediately recruit 250 employees

The court ordered deletion of his name from the list of respondents in the NAB case.

PIAC informed the court that since 2018 until 2022, approximately 5,793 employees have been separated from the airline through retirements, resignations, voluntary separation scheme, early retirement and dismissal on discipline or possessing fake degrees.

As a result, PIAC is facing an acute shortage of manpower of professional and skilled employees in flight operations, services, information technology, finance, etc.

The government asked PIAC to show from which departments employees were separated and demanded a complete organogram of each department reflecting vacancies.

PIAC sought a week's time from the court to justify the recruitment of 250 fresh employees.

Referring to PIA's demand for $40m annual support, the government expressed its surprise by asking whether the airline needs expensive offices abroad when most of the tickets were purchased online and questioning what sales have been booked through PIAC offices abroad in a year.

The government also asked PIAC to explain in how many countries the airline operates its offices, what rent in dollars it pays to maintain these offices and how many people have been posted in these offices abroad.

'PIAC is a public limited company,' Additional Attorney General Rashdeen Nawaz Kasuri, representing the federal government...

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