PIA to cut-down its aircraft-to-employee ratio

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is planning to cut down its aircraft to employee ratio from 260 to 220 employees in 2022, the national airline revealed on Monday.

“The employee to aircraft ratio had been brought down to 260 from the level of 550 employees per aircraft in the year 2017,” the airline stated.

“This reduction in employees has brought PIA at par with international aviation industry standards,” the flag carrier added.

PIA’s move comes as other airlines globally cut costs sharply amid travel restrictions and a collapse in global air travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

It is pertinent to note that PIA had cut its workforce by over 50% since 2017 when the national carrier’s total strength stood at around 16,500. The airline has a current strength of 8,156 regular workers.

“PIA reforms in human resources pay off with positive results, and the airline has been successful in bringing down the HR numbers to achieve savings of Rs8 billion per year,” it said.

The statement further said the reform process would continue and more aircraft were being added to the fleet, which would improve the quality of PIA’s service.

PIA is looking to increase its fleet from 31 aircraft to 35.

“With the induction of aircraft, this year PIA fleet would further bring down the number to 220 employees per aircraft.”

The reduction in the workforce was due to voluntary separation schemes (VSS), fake degree holders, and employees terminated on disciplinary grounds.

Some 1,900 employees opted for a voluntary separation scheme, 837 employees were terminated on fake degrees, while 1,100 employees were terminated on disciplinary grounds. “Around 800 to 900 people have also been retiring every year,” it added.

The PIA is looking to have fewer than 5,500 people working on 45 aircraft — or fewer than 125 employees per aircraft. The government approved Rs12.87 billion in funding for the airline in 2020 to move forward with the VSS.

Last week, the International Civil Aviation Organisation said Pakistan’s civil aviation regulator had resolved significant safety concerns that arose from a 2020 scandal over fake pilot licences.

The government grounded 262 airline pilots in June 2020 after they were suspected of cheating on mandatory licence tests — a scandal that tainted PIA, which European and US aviation regulators barred from their territories.

PIA incurred a loss of Rs34.6 billion in the financial year 2020. The losses were heavier in 2019 — at Rs56.03 billion.

However, PIA is yet to share the annual financial results of the financial year 2021.

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