Post Hajj; PIA has started bringing home the Haji’s. Delay’s ranging anywhere between 2 and 10+ hours, it is only understandable why the pilgrims are most unhappy with… the not so “great people to fly with.”
Waiting for PIA’s MD, Nadeem Yusufzai; I asked if I could stroll around the magnificent Head Office. With its fountain aquariums, multiple open plan coffee bays, canvas layered ceilings, I forgot for a moment that I was at the offices of PIA, an airline that is as far from its motto, as I am from the moon.
When I finally met Mr. Yusufzai he was accompanied by the ‘fat men’ from Shakespeare’s Julius Ceaser; one of them fell asleep five minutes into the interview. I could see this was going quite well.
Seated in the MD’s Guest Lounge, I inquired how he saw this year’s Hajj Operation. Not expecting him to admit mistakes, he was first critical of those who had drummed on, that PIA’s Hajj operation would be a complete failure. Then he started to compare PIA to Pakistan Railways… Hello !! Apples & Oranges ?!?
When asked why PIA had to rent the pair of 747-200 series aircraft from Hellenic Imperial Airways, the MD responded that one of PIA’s Aircraft, a 747-200 Combi-Freighter (AP-BAK) had developed corrosion and therefore they had to rent the two aircraft [a story that PIA’s Engineering department rubbished], he then went on to state how lucky PIA was that they got these Aircraft in the first place.
I was a little unmoved, considering we had two 747’s sitting in our Hangars (AP-BGG and AP-BFV), and 4 engines from AP-BFX that was scrapped earlier this year. The MD responded that 3 engines had gone for repairs and the aircraft in the Hangar were there for due maintenance; questioning me if it would have been better to fly those aircraft without maintenance, putting passengers at risk. Well obviously not Mr. MD, but don’t you think it would have been smarter to have these repairs done sooner?
Why am I making the engines such a bone of contention? Because had we not leased these 747-200’s from Hellenic, we would have saved 400 million rupees in rent for the 400 hours that PIA MD Nadeem Yusufzai says they (SX-TIC & SX-TIE) have already flown.
It was interesting that on some points I was better versed than the MD, as he put it; my questions were coming across as bouncers he was having difficulty facing.
This comment came, when I asked why AP-BFV, an aircraft that recently went for Section 41 Modification in Garuda Indonesia was inoperable due to missing engine parts. The only Response, “Kabhi Parts nikaal laitay hain”.
A few more questions confirmed, the MD wasn’t on top of his game as far as the 747’s were concerned, and it was probably better to inquire about the problems, the electronic media had been ranting about, and the returning pilgrims had identified. Why were the flights so Late?
I was really thrown off my footing when the MD claimed only 7 flights out of 250 were late. Yes, after hearing this I too, wondered if the Haji’s and the Pakistani Electronic media had been lying.
According to Mr Yusufzai, 4 PIA Aircraft had been standing at the Saudi Airport, and it wasn’t PIA’s fault the Haji’s weren’t on time. He blamed the Muallim, and the Maktabs. Then came the excuse of teething problems, which according to the MD happen every year.
Responding to the delays faced by the Pilgrims, MD PIA Nadeem Yusufzai said; Delay’s happen, sometimes its immigration, sometimes due to flat tires, adding that Pilgrims went on Camelback and on foot before, they should be thankful, now they travel in Airplanes…
At this point I said thank you, because I could take no more.