Thousands stranded as Pakistan airline strike enters fourth day


Islamabad : Pakistan’s flag carrier remained virtually grounded Friday, leaving thousands of passengers stranded at airports as an employees’ strike entered the fourth day.

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The pilots and auxiliary staffers of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) went on strike Tuesday over a route-sharing agreement with Turkish Airlines.

PIA managing director Ejaz Haroon, said that thousands of passengers were stranded at airports as most of the local and international operations were affected.

“The situation is really bad as 90 per cent of flights have been cancelled,” Haroon said. “The airline has suffered over 1-billion-rupee ($11.7-million) losses in three days.”

The workers have also accused Haroon of corruption and demanded his removal, but Haroon said it was a political move to prolong the strike.

“If they have anything against me, they can go to the court,” said Haroon, who is considered very close to President Asif Ali Zardari.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik Thursday met with strike leader Sohail Baloch but failed to convince him to call off the strike.

Baloch said it was a voluntary strike and people could go back to work, but none of the workers did.

The PIA has caused losses of billion of dollars to the exchequer due to poor management and overstaffing, but no corrective measures have been taken due to the opposition by the trade unions.

The government is under pressure from international donors to end subsidies to PIA and other state-run entities.

The deal with the Turkish airlines is believed to bring money for the cash-starved carrier but the employees fear that it will result in salary cuts.