Recently the government of Pakistan dished out millions of dollars worth of aid and support to Pakistan International Airline. Its CAA charges are frozen, PSO charges frozen and huge chunks of taxpayers money dished out to support it. PIA is being rightly helped in a concrete manner to recover out of decades of coma and ease its burden, and it is pleasing to notice but, isn’t that unfair for others whose problems weren’t such complex and who were cut off?
These little give-away solutions could have been also done for Shaheen Air and save many people from being rendered unemployed. I hope this is the last time PIA will need this kind of juvenile care. But helping Shaheen would have meant that it will return by paying the taxes and generating revenue for the country and itself.
But Shaheen had just Rs. 1.4 billion on outstanding bills before the CAA and FBR decided its closure. A Pakistani company had fallen sick and instead of being saved, it was just murdered, by the mafia sitting at CAA and Aviation Division, because that seemed easy. However if the responsible organisations that led to the demise of Shaheen been competent enough to measure the potential national loss their actions were going to precipitate, they would have done better or, would have been held accountable. Unfortunately also, had the NAP been a bit more explanatory and scientific, such events would have been prevented.
Aviation is vital to our nation’s economic well being. We offer the industry a tremendous opportunity in our weather, demography and in the overflowing fortune of tourism prospect perhaps matched only by the United States, a nation twice our size in population and many times in geographical spread. For example, for just the tourism question, there is a hell of a lot more than anyone’s idea in the National Aviation Policy document of 2015. It is a different story, how the experts are unaware and need some serious studying to have the industry fuse into the national economy.
By that measure, Shaheen Airlines was equally important and a national asset. They were a large airline, larger than both Airblue and Serene combined and had been in business for much more than a good decade and were offering PIA a serious competition. The kind of money they needed to take to the sky again, continue to serve Pakistan, help people keep their jobs, connect the nation far and beyond borders and substantially contribute to national economy was only a small part of what the PIA has consumed from time to time by sucking on our taxes just because they were the government and even though never truly performed under the previous democracies continued to receive generous recovery packages.
Thanks to the ineptness of its owners who should have been behind bars instead of being allowed to carry their stash with them, Shaheen Air should have been brought under officiating management may be under their own Director Flight Operations, and the government should have found ways to prevent its demise which somehow I feel had been known about.
The National Aviation Policy, in its attempt to sound a bit calculative, does mention the direct, indirect and induced contribution Aviation industry makes to the national environment, so then why did the government take pride in closing this airline and render thousands on the streets looking for work in total contrast with the NAP ‘spirit’? Why wasn’t that company helped in the name of national economy and those Pakistanis who consequently lost their livelihood to such crude management style? Was that to kill PIA’s competition? Take a guess.
More money will be pumped into the PIA now and I hope there is a strong plan to eliminate waste, infuse a productive culture, a system of measuring the impact of a decision and its accountability, monitoring, delivering and performance management. Only wish the same pain and empathy existed in Aviation minister and aviation division about Shaheen or for that matter other airlines.