Tuesday Apr 07, 2020
ISLAMABAD: The Aviation Division secretary has assured the Pakistan Airlines Pilots' Association (PALPA) and Pakistan International Airlines' (PIA) representatives of full support, as well as readiness towards taking measures to ensure aircrew's safety, a summary of the meeting read.
According to the summary, Aviation Secretary Hassan Nasir Jamy was apprised of the PALPA's "apprehensions pertaining to the safety measures being taken regarding airline operations in the wake of COVID-19", the name of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
It was recognised during the meeting that the airlines were responsible to provide appropriate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to the cockpit and cabin crew "with immediate effect".
Further, the chief pilot would ensure to their "satisfaction the implementation of Standard Operating Procedures (S.O.Ps) issued by PCAA [Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority]" and certificate "countersigned / verified by PCAA Inspector from Directorate of Flight Standards and Directorate of Airworthiness".
It was noted that flights would operate only "upon satisfaction of the captain" and that the airlines will "not be held responsible", according to the summary.
"The unwillingness of the pilot will be informed in writing to the Airline for issues related to COVID-19," it added, stressing that the airline would ensure training and briefing of cabin crew and the relevant ground handling staff.
"Government of Pakistan / PCAA directions of operations from designated facilities will be followed," it added further.
Earlier in the day, the pilots' association had taken up the safety of airline staff with government officials, approaching the Prime Minister House to resolve its dispute with the PIA regarding the alleged non-provision of safety gear, insiders revealed.
Six PIA employees — a pilot, two cabin crew members, and an aircraft technician — have contracted the COVID-19 virus, the national carrier confirmed but did not say how or when this had happened.
The PALPA had asked pilots to refuse duties on flights to repatriate Pakistanis stranded worldwide due to the coronavirus pandemic after PIA crew was held up for testing at the Karachi airport after a recent flight and the airline retaliated by suspending flights from the metropolis.
According to sources, the PM House had reportedly asked the PALPA to resolve issues in consultation with the PIA chief operating officer. The association had also approached federal aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, who advised the association to talk to the civil aviation secretary.
A recent report in The News had stated that the dispute between the two entities arose after the PIA flight crew was detained in Karachi, with the PALPA saying safety was compromised and COVID-19-related SOPs were ignored on the recent "humanitarian flights".
PALPA President Captain Chaudhry Salman had claimed that the PCAA had failed to ensure set rules and regulations and that the negligence of the said rules was a disaster for the airline. He further alleged that the PIA was also violating its own rules by compelling pilots to perform duties for over 24 hours.