PIA flights cancelled due to strike

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Islamabad, Feb 3 (IANS) All domestic and international flights of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) were cancelled on Wednesday as the employees’ strike to protest the carrier’s privatisation entered its second day.

PIA employees resumed protest, which came as the federal government invoked the Essential Services (Maintenance) Act, 1952, in the PIA for six months, Dawn online reported.

PIA representatives at Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport, Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport and Peshawar’s Bacha Khan International Airport confirmed that all domestic and international flights scheduled for Wednesday were cancelled.

“All PIA flights have been suspended indefinitely,” said a PIA inquiry representative at Lahore airport.

He said a few PIA flights landed at Lahore airport on Wednesday morning, although services of “employees of a private company” were used to handle the arriving flights.

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Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesman Pervez George said the authority has requested private carrier Airblue to schedule additional flights between major cities to accommodate passengers after cancellation of PIA flights.

As news of the death of two PIA employees in a clash with security forces spread on Tuesday evening, the national flag carrier’s flight operations across the country began shutting down in solidarity with the protesters, officials said.

The National Assembly on January 21 witnessed the passage of six bills, including one to convert the national flag carrier into a public limited company.

Under the bill, Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (PIAC) will be converted into a public limited company as Pakistan International Airlines Company Limited (PIACL).

The government plans to split the ailing national flag carrier PIA into two companies and sell the control of its core business to a global airline, but the opposition to the sell-off has been intense.

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