KARACHI: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) employees have staged a sit-in outside Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) head office while heavy contingents of Rangers and police are present at the site.
Joint Action Committee (JAC) had announced permanent halt to operations from today onwards while vowed to stage a sit-in in Sindh’s metropolitan.
Entry and exit points of Jinnah terminal are flocked with protesters who have lit candles in remembrance of two late colleagues.
Police personnel are carrying batons in case the protest turns violent. National airlines counter is closed at the Jinnah International Airport. On the other hand, Pakistan Airlines Pilots’ Association (PALPA) had announced on Tuesday to join the strike and suspend flight operations.
While addressing a press conference on Tuesday, PALPA’s vice president Captain Sadiq Rehman stated that PALPA stands shoulder to shoulder with the employees and refuses to take part in any operation.
Owing to pilots’ strike, flight operations across the country are shut. Both domestic and international flights have been cancelled. Until the filing of this report, at least five domestic and one international flight scheduled to depart from Karachi airport were cancelled.
Pakistan International Airlines office in Islamabad’s blue area is also shut today.
Flight operations at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport are suspended as well. PIA’s office as Egerton Road is closed as workers have comfortably seated themselves in the open.
PIA s chairman Nasir Jaffer meanwhile offered his resignation, though it has not been accepted by Sharif, according to airline spokesman Danial Gilani.
“Everything is shut now and flight operations have come to a complete halt,” he told AFP.
The carrier could lose around $4 million in revenue per day, Gilani added.
Protest leader Sohail Baloch told AFP: “We will continue our peaceful protests until our demand is met.”
The employees also said they would donate a day s salary to the families of the two employees who were killed.
In December, Islamabad announced it would complete the partial sale of the carrier by July, following years of crushing losses and mismanagement that have battered the airline s reputation.
Earlier on Tuesday, alleged firing of Sindh Police and Pakistan Rangers claimed lives of two PIA employees. Gun fires were heard as workers of the national airlines rallied towards Jinnah terminal from the head office on the eigth day of consecutive protests on Tuesday.
The strike has not grounded the aircrafts but freezed courier and cargo services as well. Grocery traders are severely suffering at the hands of protesting bodies among the passengers.
Goods weighing around 200 tonnes are rotting sitting at Benazir International Airport while fruits and vegetables export have been affected severely. Traders said that they could not get the goods back as refund counter is also closed.
Export of eatables from Karachi airport has also been adversely affected.
All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA) Chairman Waheed Ahmed has said that exporters are bearing losses worth crores of Rupees owing to the strike. Export orders could be lost if deliveries are delayed further, he added.
It should be mentioned here that several colleagues of the protesting employees have not been given salaries of the past month as functions of the company are disturbed for around two weeks.
Water cannon has been called at the Allama Iqbal International Airport.
Earlier on February 1, the PIA employees protested against privatization of the company, which has bee delayed for six months. Law enforcers baton charged and countered movement of the employees using a water cannon.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-e-Islami among others denounced the government’s act. The political parties vowed to stand with the alleged victimized protesters.
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