The protest by Pakistan Airlines (PIA) employees continued for third day as they are demanding from the Government to end its agreement to give air routes to Turkish Airlines and the resignation of Managing Director of PIA Aijaz Haroon. The Government also taken notice for it started discussion with Joint Action Committee (JAC), which ended without any evident progress and divergence accounts from both ends.
Mr. Rehman Malik (Interior Minister of Pakistan) has assured JAC to resolve the issue within 2 – 3 days and the Government would accept their demands, he also ordered to remove rangers from the Airport but still these are in planned not implemented. The negotiations were held at the Rawal Lounge of Benazir Bhutto Airport. Labor Minister Khurshid Ahmad Shah and Manzoor Ahmad represented the government, while Sohail Baloch, Kamran Chaudhry, Safdar Anjum, Shamim Akmal and Hadiatullah participated in the meeting on behalf of the JAC. The government team did not admit the demand to remove the PIA Managing Director.
Managing Director Haroon reached Islamabad along with seven to eight members of the Technical Ground Support (TGS) department from Karachi. While the MD left the airport immediately by driving out through a separate gate, the TGS staff set to work to repair the PIA stair vans and tug-masters which had been damaged by the protesters.
During the day (Wednesday), PIA flights were cancelled and disrupted. In fact, according to some accounts, more flights were disrupted on Wednesday than the day before; at least 25 to 30 PIA flights scheduled to take off from Benazir Bhutto International Airport were said to have been cancelled. Private airliners cashed in on the situation by raising fares for the stranded passengers on Wednesday.
Since last three days, PIA has faced a huge loss as near about 810 million Pakistani rupees because they will have to refund the payments to passengers.
The Rangers, who had been called to assist police and Airport Security Force on Tuesday, were deployed at the exit and entry gates and along the compound walls of the airport premises as nobody, except passengers with valid air tickets, was allowed inside. However, the local police were withdrawn from the airport premises on Wednesday.
The situation at the other main airports of the country was as similar. In Lahore, protesters blocked a road leading to the main entrance of Allama Iqbal International Airport for an hour or so, forcing passengers to walk to the airport, carrying their luggage with them. The passengers are facing the music as all PIA flights cancelled till a indefinite period, they moved to crowed Railway stations, and some are paying extra fare to other airlines for their accommodations.
The protest, which disrupted PIA flights across the country’s airports, began on Monday night on the call of JAC. The situation worsened on Tuesday after the PIA management sacked eight pilots who had refused to work.