JACPIAE Endorses Aircraft Leasing Process as Transparent
KARACHI: The Joint Action Committee of PIA Employees (JACPIAE) has endorsed the transparency being maintained by the management in the acquisition of aircraft on lease for smooth Hajj operations and international schedules, a statement said.
JACPIAE, comprising representatives of all the unions and associations, showed its satisfaction over the transparent process being adopted by the new management in fleet acquisition.
Capt. Suhail Baloch, president of Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (PALPA) and JACPIAE convener, said that the management has briefed the unions and associations regarding “Temporary bridging plan” to acquire few aircraft for specific needs to bridge the gap, especially when new acquisition could take three-four years and bringing its full fleet in service will take at least six more months.
Whereas the Hajj operations are around the corner and shortage of the fleet could have forced the management to repeat the horrific scenario of previous Hajj operations where poor pilgrims were stranded at the Jeddah Airport for more than 15 hours at times.
He said that the genuineness of the whole process can be ascertained by the fact that the PIA management is not holding any session on the subject without the union representatives’ presence contrary to some of the dubious deals made in the past.
Rejecting media reports regarding non-transparent procedure the committee states, “It will be injustice to the elected members of the unions and associations overseeing the process and ensuring all technical and procedural modalities, to adopt traditional rhetoric of corruption based on the lack of awareness of aviation norms and requirement,” he said.
The committee said that the selection process is still continuing and the bids are being evaluated as against the reports of awarding the contract, it said, adding that unnecessary adventurism in reporting corruption should be avoided as the matter does not only pertains to PIA management, its unions, and bidders but also to timely travel and return of Hajj pilgrims who should be the main focus. Any move to jeopardise the process to please a ‘few’ sources might repeat the previous years’ Hajj operations mismanagement, which still haunts the PIA staff who faced the Hajj pilgrims after hour long delays.
Shokat Jamshed, president of the Society of Aircraft Engineers of Pakistan (SAEP) and deputy convener of JACPIAE, said, “It must be noted here that presently the ageing fleet of PIA consists of 38 aircraft of which at an average, at least three-four aircraft remains under scheduled maintenance, while seven-eight aircraft remain on ground needing engines and spares. The previous managements did not pay heed to these aircraft and a process of cannibalisation was ordered, which ate up the airline’s prime resources. The management is in the process of bringing its repaired engines from almost all around the world after arranging funds for the same, he said.
“The airline on an urgent basis requires more aircraft for better facilitation to the traveling public,” he added.
Since the compliance of the PPRA rules is essential to maintain transparency, the procedure for leasing the aircraft was kept strictly in line with the specified rules on each step of the tendering.
The committee, while explaining the leasing procedure also said that the selection of narrow body B737-800 were made predominantly taking in account some factors, which included licence issued by the CAA Pakistan to pilots / cockpit crew for B737-300 (in service aircraft) is also valid for B737-800 with conversion of only one day class room training and two hours simulator training.
Similarly, cabin crew conversion from B737-300 (in service) to B737-800 needs only two days class room training; engineers conversion training from B737-300 to B737-800 needs 18 days of training; existing shop repair and maintenance facility for 737-300 and 737-800 is common; spare parts inventory of B737-300 and B737-800 have 40 percent parts commonality, thereby, meaning less acquisition of spares for maintaining FAA specified float level (Minimum Inventory level).
Moreover, PPRA Rule 42 (c) sub rule (iii) states “where a change of supplier/equipment would oblige the procuring agency to acquire material having different technical specifications or characteristics and would result in incompatibility or disproportionate technical difficulties in operation and maintenance. Procuring agency may engage in direct contracting (Specific Equipment).’
The final agreement for acquisition will only come into force once the aircraft have been duly inspected and cleared by a composite team comprising inspectors from the CAA Pakistan, PIA Flight Operations, PIA Flight Safety and Quality Assurance and a representative each from PIA Engineering and Corporate Planning Departments, which would physically inspect the aircraft and its associated records.
JACPIAE said that the consideration of all abovementioned factors and the rule position were thoroughly debated by the board of directors of the national airline and was duly concurred upon.
Thus, tenders were floated in two national daily newspapers and international print media and at the same time placed on PIA and PPRA websites as specified under PPRA Rule 12. “Technical bids were opened after clear 30 days of advertisement on July 16 vide PPRA Rule 13,” informed the committee.
Later, three bids were received in response to the captioned tenders and due diligence was carried out by a committee from July 16 to August 1 this year, while financial offers were opened on August 2 and the case was presented to the PIA board of directors in its meeting held on August 7.
“The agreement for leasing of the subject aircraft is yet to be finalised. The corporation’s policies and procedures allow contracting of aircraft on lease only by the owners of the aircraft and none else,” said the statement.
JACPIAE said that they fully support this initiative of the new management for the betterment of the national airline, while they are content with the procedures being adopted in the most transparent manner.
While respecting the struggle of institutions striving to ensure transparency in the country, the committee advises to keep national interest supreme and consider that undue criticism might hamper the smooth execution of Hajj operations, which will put into trouble thousands of citizens intending to perform Hajj just because of ‘ego’ of a few people were not served.