Thousands stranded in Pakistan airline strike

PIA staff are unhappy about a route-sharing deal with Turkish Airlines.

Updated: Feb 11, 2011, 14:05 PM IST

Karachi: An employee strike at Pakistan`s state-owned airline, now in its third day, stranded thousands of passengers and grounded nearly three dozen domestic and international flights on Thursday, an airline spokesman said.

A group of pilots and support staff for Pakistan International Airlines launched the strike because they are unhappy about a proposed route-sharing deal with Turkish Airlines. PIA bosses say the proposal could raise needed revenue, but strikers fear it will lead to job or pay cuts.

PIA spokesman Mashhood Tajwar said 33 flights were cancelled. No PIA planes were flying to or from the capital, Islamabad, while the schedule in the southern city of Karachi has been disrupted.

Strike leader Suhail Baluch met with federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik to resolve the situation on Thursday, but emerged to say the strike would continue. However, he added, it was a voluntary strike and his group would not keep any employee from working if they wanted to.

"I hope we will resolve all the issues soon," Malik told reporters afterward.
PIA has posted multimillion dollar losses for years because of bad management and competition from Gulf airlines, and the latest strike is sure to further impact its bottom line. Government subsidies to the airline and other state-run enterprises eat up a big chunk of the budget at a time of economic struggles.

Bureau Report