Wednesday Oct 16 2019

1,000 officers promoted at loss-making PIA to motivate demoralised staff

PIA's top management believes promotions will motivate the already demoralised staff to perform well. Photo: File 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) — a debt-ridden entity with over a billion rupees per month loss, out of the blue has promoted 1,000 officers to next grades adding hundreds of millions of rupees additional burden to the national exchequer.

The top management of PIA — mostly on deputation from Pakistan Air Force (PAF) believes the promotions will motivate the already demoralised staff to perform well and get the PIA out of this financial quagmire.

Out of the total 1,000 who have been promoted to next groups, almost 750 crew members have been promoted from group 4 to 5, around 121 crew members were working in group 5 and majority of them have been promoted to group 6. Similarly, 84 out of 280 flight pursers working in group 6 have been promoted to group 7 as senior pursers.

The promotion board meeting of PIA was held in August this year where around 1,000 employees from group one to ten were promoted to the next grades. The flight service or crewmembers start from group 4 to group 7. The senior officials working in PIA have expressed their reservations about the formula of current promotions particularly the employees of group 6 believe the board has violated the policy of merit and seniority while promoting the officers.

Read also: PIA lays off nearly 1,000 surplus employees

Around 750 crewmembers from group 4 have been promoted to group 5. However, 350 out of these 750 have less than 4-year experience in the flight services and they do not meet the criteria for the promotion. As per the rules, any officer in the flight services group cannot be promoted to the next group unless he/she has completed 10 years of service as a crewmember in group 4 but they have been promoted in violation of the rules. With this promotion, every crewmember of this group will get at least Rs20,000 pay raise per month. Those 350 crewmembers who got undue promotion will cost additional Rs84 million to the national exchequer annually.

Similarly, 280 officers are working in group 6 as flight pursuer. Out of them, 35 officials do not have a graduation degree and they are automatically disqualified for the promotion to next grade. The board has promoted 84 out of remaining 245 officers to group 7.

As per record, 152 crewmembers in group 6 are working in Karachi out of which 64 have been promoted to group 7. In Lahore, 40 crewmembers/pursers are working and only 5 of them have been promoted to group 7. Similarly, 39 crewmembers in group 6 are stationed in Islamabad out of which 9 have been promoted to the next group whereas four out of seven crewmembers in group 6 have been promoted to the next grade from Peshawar.

Read also: PIA faces loss by operating 46 flights without any passengers

The sources claim that the management has promoted such a large number of employees from group 4 so that it could get the maximum number of officials out of the PIA unions. The employees from group 1 to 4 can become the member of PIA unions because from group 4 onwards ‘officer category’ starts and they cannot be the member of the PIA unions.

According to the sources, serious violation of merit was observed in the whole promotion process. “The board has promoted many officers who were at the bottom of the seniority list in group 6. The CEO gave instructions that candidate with a clean and good record be selected, but nowhere was there any instruction regarding seniority, which was misunderstood by board members. Only one to two minutes given to candidates and asked SEP questions by honourable board members who were not even themselves aware of the queries being asked”, said the sources.

When contacted, Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) Air Commodore Amer Altaf said it was true there were some discrepancies in the promotion of group 6 to group 7. “The management has stopped the promotion of this group and ordered an inquiry. This group’s officials will be issued their promotion letters once the inquiry is complete. However, there was no discrepancy in the promotion of other groups. They have been promoted purely on merit”.

When asked whether 350 crewmembers of group 4 have the required ten-year service in the flight services, Air Commodore Altaf said, “It is not true. In many cases, the group 4 officials have performed their duties in other departments. For the last three to four years, they have been serving in the flight services department. Overall, they have served 10 years in the PIA and that’s why they have been promoted to group 5”.

He said there will not be a huge financial impact on PIA as these promotions were long due because for last two to three years, no promotion board meeting has been held. This promotion will motivate the employees and it will result in improving their performance.

“After the new management took over PIA, the losses have been reduced from Rs3.4 billion to around Rs1.5 billion per month. We are trying our best to reduce the losses further and cut the loss-making routes. Lack of discipline was one of the major problems in PIA and we are trying our best to restore the discipline in national flag career. We have traced around 450 ghost employees, who were recruited on daily wages basis. Similarly, the new management has terminated around 350 employees who have fake degrees. Out of those 350 fake degree holders, almost 8 were working as a Captain in PIA”, informed Air Commodore Altaf.

Originally published in The News