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PIA flights have been cancelled due to strike

03 February, 2016

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KARACHI: All domestic and international flights of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) were cancelled on Wednesday, airport officials said, as the strike resulting from employees' protest against the national carrier's privatisation entered its second day.

PIA employees resumed their protest, which came as the federal government invoked the Essential Services (Maintenance) Act, 1952, in the PIA for six months, outside major airports across the country.

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 today have been cancelled.

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

He said a few PIA flights, including from London and Milan, landed at Lahore airport on Wednesday morning, although services of "employees of a private company" were used to handle the arriving flights.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesman Pervez George told reporters that 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 deaths of two protesting 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.

PIA flight operations were suspended around 4pm at Lahore, Islamabad, Quetta and Peshawar airports. The status of PIA flights at Karachi was already uncertain due to the violent protests.

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) is to 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.

But representatives of PIA employees announced on Sunday their opposition to the government's privatisation plan, saying they would continue their strike and bring flight operations to a halt from Tuesday if their demands are not met.

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