Airline Loses Thousands of Passengers While Employees Turn Violent

Delta Airlines earned over about $56,000 profit per employee in 2015. Pakistan International Airlines earns about $36,000 in revenue per employee. But employees feel they aren’t well-compensated enough for their contribution, and are fighting against privatization which they fear could undermine their compensation, benefits, and no show jobs.

Financial performance per employee is “the lowest among 72 listed peers tracked by Bloomberg — making it the world’s most overstaffed by this measure.”

Pakistan is required to privatize the airline under terms of an IMF loan. Of course the longer that’s put off, the more loss-making quarters private investors will realize.

Employee protests have turned violent in clashes with police involving rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas.

With the airline’s operations crippled, they do not even know where stranded passengers are.

“We have no data available on how many and where passengers with confirmed PIA tickets are waiting, because the entire system is shut, servers are down and no booking is being done,” spokesman Danyal Gilani said by phone.

For perspective, “Travelers are all too familiar with the problem of airlines misplacing their luggage. But it’s less common for carriers to lose track of large numbers of actual passengers.”

When the airline does know where it’s stranded passengers are, they don’t do particularly well either such as sending all of their passengers by bus to another airport over 160 miles away, only to have them turned away and sent back. Passengers have shown up in Lahore only to be told their flight was ‘really leaving’ from Islamad. And when they got to Islamabad they learned, “just kidding.” It seems that when PIA employees are forced to overnight passengers at a hotel at the airline’s expense, the employees earn kickbacks from those hotels.

Fortunately in this case,

PIA has made efforts to find all of its stranded passengers. It has agreed with Etihad Airways PJSC and is in talks with Turkish Airlines to fly passengers stranded in Europe, the U.S. and Canada, Gilani said. Saudi Arabian Airlines is helping fly back 2,000 passengers from the kingdom.

If the price of oil wasn’t plunging, the airline might be able to obtain a rescue from Etihad which likes to buy stakes in very troubled carriers with union problems (like Alitalia!) in exchange for pushing traffic through its Abu Dhabi hub. But the Gulf carrier hasn’t pulled the trigger on an investment in South African Airways, and things there haven’t even turned violent.

(HT: Point Me to the Plane)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Merkel of Germany should just agree to take in all these Pakistanis. Germany need more islamic workers to attack and rape the German women and convert Germany into an islamic state. Merkel is really helping Germany. She really is.

  2. When I saw the headline, I thought the article was going to be about Delta. But Gary, you will not have compromised your commitment to keeping an open discussion if you block racist vitriol from your comments, especially when they not germaine.

  3. @Ismail. Most stupid and rubbish comment from a sick mind.

    The story of PIA is one that of very tragic demise because of political interference. Different governments in different times have been inducting their party workers and supporters as special favors without any regard to merit that has resulted in today’s situation. In fifties and early sixties it was one of the most advanced and well regarded airline in Asia. Jacqueline Kennedy on her visit to Pakistan boarded a PIA flight on her return which is unthinkable in today’s terms.

  4. Why does pia force everyone to not partake alcohol by foisting their religious values on non Muslims? How would it be if all other airlines just carried pork dishes on their flights to Pakistan.

  5. @caveman (btw, well done there, sir)… yeah, because NOTHING has changed in the middle east and Pakistan since the 1950’s- 60 years ago. so, yeah, talking about irrelevant comments… ahem, pot. kettle.

    and, you’d what… not hesitate to put your family on a third world airline with the people in the video responsible for their safety, the maintenance of the aircraft, etc? much like other 3rd world airlines, i personally take a pass.

    and… it doesn’t much intellect to conclude that a lot of the middle east is stuck in stone age mentality with human rights, treatment of women and letting silly mythology control every facet of life. read a book. try it- it’s so easy, even a caveman can do it…

  6. @Larry I guess I think comments like Ismail’s make the commenter look like a moron. Which is exactly what you want such a person to reveal themselves to be, rather than hiding it. It’s unpleasant and unwelcoming for sure. I don’t enjoy having that here. But I don’t censor comments because I also don’t know that I can draw clear lines about what to delete and what not to, once I start censoring unpleasant and unwelcoming comments I’ve got to start using discretion about what those are. I’d make a good faith effort not to think comments critical of me are unpleasant and unwelcoming, but…

    Anyway that’s how I think about this sort of thing.

  7. I can’t remember whether I’ve posted this before… but it still cracks me up, so here goes.
    A friend of mine (a former Air India flight attendant) told me that, at a time in the 70s when Pakistan International Airlines had a truly horrific safety record, there was a joke going around that PIA stood for “Please Inform Allah”. At around the same time, Air India also had a few accidents, and people started saying that AI stood for “Allah informed.”

  8. @Gary,
    I tend to agree with the first poster’s basic point re Merkel/Germany, although his (her?) wording can easily be considered offensive. Given the post is both off-topic (unrelated to PIA, airlines or even travel in general) and offensive in nature, you have a reasonable basis for deleting/censoring it, IMHO. Although as you implied, it becomes a slippery slope fast when you have to become a free speech censor on top of writing rewards/travel blog articles.

    As far as PIA itself, LOL. There is a friendly contractor from Pakistan at work, I’m debating whether to share this article with him.

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