CAA employees, unions and associations have started to hold emergency meetings after the news of segregation of the authority. AEECAA (Association of CNS engineering directorate of CAA), PATCG (Air Traffic Controllers Guild) and COAP (CAA’s Officers Association) have rejected the proposal of segregation and have expressed grave concerns regarding the matter.
Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority is one of the few organizations that earn a hefty amount of revenue each year and contributes a handsome amount to government institutions in taxes.
Despite airspace closures in the recent past, decreased international flights, and PIA not paying any service and passenger charges (since 10 years now); CAA continued to work in silence till the revenue reached PKR 89 billion in 2018-19.
On 15th July a meeting was chaired by the PM for the segregation of CAA in regulatory and service provider (Airport Services) functions. Till today, CAA handles both regulatory and Airport Services itself.
Bifurcation at What Cost?
Although the basis of segregation of CAA is NAP (National Aviation Policy) and ICAO (International Civil Aviation Authority Organization) recommendations, however, the proposed model for the newfound airport services association and the splitting of functions is deemed infeasible by aviation experts.
The ministry has proposed that the newly formed airport services company would be registered with SECP and will own 43 airports of Pakistan.
Initially, the investment will be invited for 3 major airports i.e. Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad. This can be done based on equity sharing in the subsidiary company, open tender, or joint venture.
The proposed hierarchy-organograms for the regulatory and airport services company include splitting of mission-critical sections like CNS (Communication Navigation & Surveillance) and ANS (Air Navigation Services). This can become a safety hazard and can lead to violation of international aviation standards as well.
Another concern is the sensitivity of Pakistani airspace due to long shared borders with the hostile neighbor country, mountain peaks in the north and important aeronautical sea-routes to the south. Civil and military (PAF) aeronautical information and navigation facilities are currently shared smoothly. But with CAA splitting and limiting itself to a regulatory role (mostly), the question of security is also raised by many.
CAA has approximately 10,000 employees, all of them apprehensive and distressed with rumors of forced retirement, privatization and are recalling the fates of PTCL, NBP, PIA, and PNSC (Pakistan National Shipping Corporation).
Departments placed in the Airport Services Company (proposed) are pointing towards the fact the new company formed will have to ultimately share its revenue with the foreign investor. In order to maximize the profits, the company will have to cut costs and benefits for its employees.
Employees are directly translating the “Rationalization of manpower” recommendation to layoffs and reduction in employee benefits.
Employees have launched their complaints on citizen portal as well and have warned the management that if their voice is not heard in this matter they will have no choice but to protest at all major airports of the country.