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PIA, PALPA fail to settle differences.

LAHORE, Aug. 1 -- The row between the administration of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and the Pakistan Airline Pilots' Association (PALPA) has intensified, as both sides on Saturday accused each other of compromising passenger safety and causing losses worth millions of rupees to the national airline.

The controversy started when the PIA administration pointed out that pilots had been observing a "go-slow" policy, causing flight delays and inconvenience to passengers.

However, PALPA office-bearers have denied the allegations and instead claim that the airline's administration should abide by the agreement signed between the two sides in 2009.

The episode took a new turn after PALPA accused the PIA administration of putting the lives of passengers at risk by assigning a 15-hour flight schedule to pilots and crew in violation of aviation rules.

A PIA spokesperson, however, said that due to non-cooperation of pilots, the administration had to hire retired pilots, which in fact had put the lives of the passengers at risk.

PALPA and PIA officials were scheduled to hold a joint meeting with senior officials from the Ministry of Defence on Saturday to resolve their differences. However, sources in both organisations confirmed that the meeting did not take place.

Talking to Daily Times, a PALPA spokesman said that the PIA had resorted to "outrageously ridiculous tactics of damaging its own image by illogically blaming the pilots for adopting the go-slow policy".

He maintained that the PIA had issued a statement that a single crew's duty time on a flight was only 10 hours. "However, on the July 30 flight from Islamabad to Barcelona, the crew performed 15 hours of duty," the spokesman said, adding that the 2009 working agreement between PALPA and the PIA clearly stated that the flight time should not exceed 10 hours.

He further criticised the PIA's policy of hiring retired pilots and demanded that 60 years should be set as the maximum age for pilots.

However, a PIA spokesperson said that the PIA was operating its flights around the world in line with international aviation safety standards, adding that the flight duty timings of PIA pilots were "well within" the prescribed rules and regulations.

"If the flight duty time exceeds to 13 hours, then an extra pilot is also on the flight to provide relief to the operating pilot," the PIA official said.

Moreover, he said both domestic and international agencies were monitoring PIA flight operations. "If there were any irregularities, the agencies would have highlighted it. Besides, PALPA is just an association and monitoring the PIA does not fall within its ambit," he said.

The official said the PIA suffered losses worth Rs 500 million due to flight cancellations on a single day recently after pilots refused to operate flights.

Responding to a question about hiring retired pilots, the PIA official said 65 years was the retirement age for pilots across the world and even PALPA had signed an agreement that pilots could be hired on a contract even after retirement.

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Publication:Daily Times (Lahore, Pakistan)
Date:Aug 1, 2010
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