PIA - Pakistan International Airlines (PK, Islamabad Quaid-e-Azam Int'l) will introduce a voluntary separation scheme to cut down its excessive workforce, chief executive Arshad Malik told the country’s Senate Standing Committee on Aviation on September 23, the Express Tribune newspaper reported.

The scheme will benefit 3,200 employees at a cost of PKR12.87 billion rupees (USD77.7 million) and aims to lower annual wage costs by PKR4.2 billion (USD25.4 million).

No airline in the world can survive with 14,500 employees and a PKR400 billion (USD2.4 billion) deficit and liabilities of PKR100 billion (USD600 million), Malik explained. But in two years, he added, PIA will be among the best airlines in the world.

PIA currently suffers from an employee-to-aircraft ratio of 500, Malik told the committee, contrasting this with his figures for Etihad Airways (a ratio of 211), Qatar Airways (133), Turkish Airlines (94), and others.

The Pakistani flag carrier is also in the process of approving other radical cost-cutting measures, he said.

The ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows that PIA operates a fleet of 34 aircraft including twelve A320-200s, five ATR42-500s, five ATR72-500s, six B777-200(ER)s, two B777-200(LR)s, and four B777-300(ER)s. It has five more B777-300(ER)s on order from Boeing.

In related news, the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has advised Pakistan to take “immediate corrective actions” to suspend any new pilot licenses being issued in the wake of the fake licence scandal, according to a source and official letter quoted by Reuters on September 25.

“Pakistan should improve and strengthen its licencing system to ensure that it takes into account all necessary processes and procedures and prevents inconsistencies and malpractices before new licences are issued and privileges of suspended licences are re-established,” the agency told the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority in the letter.

On September 16, Pakistan opened a criminal investigation into 50 pilots and five civil aviation officials who allegedly assisted in falsifying documents required to gain the licences. An official at the Aviation Division of Pakistan assured Reuters that no new pilot licences had been issued in the country since the scandal erupted in July.