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PIA Employees End Strike

by AFP
Farooq Naeem—AFP

Farooq Naeem—AFP

National flag carrier personnel say they will commence talks with government over controversial privatization plan.

Pakistan International Airlines employees on Tuesday ended their nine-day long strike spurred by plans to privatize the national carrier, saying their representatives would immediately hold talks with the government.

Pakistan’s airports have been enmeshed in chaos nationwide since the strike kicked off that grounded international and domestic flights and left thousands of passengers stranded. Last week, two employees were killed and several others wounded at Karachi’s international airport when clashes broke out between security forces and staff.

“We are calling off the strike today,” Sohail Baloch, the chairman of PIA’s joint action committee of employees, told a press conference in Karachi on Tuesday. Baloch also encouraged his colleagues to return to their jobs with “full commitment and spirit.”

He said his team was set to travel to Lahore on Tuesday night to hold talks with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the brother of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

A PIA spokesman said that more than 50 percent of the carrier’s operations were restored on Tuesday.

In December, Islamabad announced it would complete the partial sale of the carrier by July, following years of crushing losses and mismanagement that have battered the airline’s reputation. PIA, one of the world’s leading airlines until the 1970s, now suffers from frequent cancellations and delays and has been involved in numerous controversies over the years, including the jailing of a drunk pilot in Britain in 2013.

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