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Event Title: Senator Hidayat Ullah, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Aviation presiding over a Meeting of The Committee at Parliament House, Islamabad

Event Date: 2023-09-14

Senator Hidayatullah, Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Aviation, presided over a meeting here at Parliament House on Thursday,  that delved into significant matters concerning Aviation and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). The meeting was attended by Senators Afnan Ullah, Faisal Saleem, and Umer Farooq, and witnessed participation from eminent officials representing the Aviation Ministry, DG Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Chief HR of PIA, and senior officials from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

At the outset, the meeting was updated on the progress of recommendations made by the Standing Committee to the FIA concerning the appointment of PIA employees holding fake degrees. The FIA submitted a comprehensive compliance report, emphasizing their dedication in expediting the scrutiny process. As per the directions of the Committee, all cases were meticulously reviewed, and the report has been formally submitted, the representative added.

Chief HR of PIA provided the Committee with an overview of the entire employee roster, detailing their qualifications, experience, designations, present postings, and acting charges, particularly within Group IV and above. The presentation he provided showed that there are a total of 11,002 Regular employees in Pakistan while the approved HRB is 11,877.

The Committee, with a focus on transparency, inquired about Group V and above employees. Additionally, they emphasized the preference for hiring native Pakistanis rather than foreign nationals for overseas positions, with Chief HR highlighting the predominance of Pakistani-origin staff in foreign roles.

Further insights revealed that PIA currently employs seven Pakistani-based staff in the UK, spread across three stations. The Committee received an account of the performance evaluation process for UK-based employees, underscoring PIA's commitment to monitor the performance of all employees stationed abroad. Notably, two employees in Saudi Arabia were recently dismissed due to fake degrees, and another remains under scrutiny.

Chairman Hidayatullah extended commendations to the Sub-committee of Aviation, which probed the pilot-related matters. He informed the Committee that, the report was submitted to the Supreme Court, has resulted in a favourable decision for the pilots.

DG CAA informed the panel about the advisory issued by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), urging air operators to avoid flights over FIR Karachi (OPKR) and FIR Lahore (OPLR) below FL 260 due to Pakistan's current security situation. He emphasized that this advisory was based on media reports showcasing anti-aircraft weapons and claims of rockets/missiles in the hands of anti-state elements and crooks. DG CAA clarified that there are no such missiles/rockets capable of reaching flights at 23-24 thousand feet, given that planes typically operate at 29,000 feet or higher in these areas.

He added that Etihad Airways initially cancelled all flights following the advisory, but after consultations with the authorities, the real situation was conveyed. DG CAA urged responsible reporting by the media to uphold the country's positive image. He also noted that the advisory referenced FATA and Kashmir, although there are no air corridors in these areas.

In closing, the committee applauded PIA for inaugurating international flights to Skardu.

Senator Hidayatullah also took note of a statement published in Pakistani leading newspapers by a senior PIA official regarding the possible closure of PIA within 15 days. He stressed the importance of investigating this matter and submitting a comprehensive report to the committee.