Karachi: Following months of doubt and suspicion over its financial soundness, Air Indus is in the news again for alleged non-payment of salaries to its pilots.
Allegedly, foreign pilots, who came to Pakistan and served the airline for a few months, have eventually quit empty-handed.
They have also written a letter to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) – the regulatory body in Pakistan – on February 14, mentioning all the problems faced.
“In my 20 years in the aviation industry as a pilot, former director operations and safety director, I have not seen so much corruption, deceit, lies, and such a dysfunctional airline with no standardisation or infrastructure,” said Larry Bond, an American pilot who quit recently after a two-month association.
Bond, who has been to over 37 countries during his 20-year long career, said that the airline breached his one-year contract that was signed in December 2013. “I am under a debt of over $20,000 just because the airline has failed to pay me my salary for two months and reimbursements of airline tickets,” said Bond.
Khan, who is staying in Multan, left the airline recently. He claims that the airline has to reimburse the ticket, worth $3,550, that he bought in the United States to come to Pakistan. “If I was in any country, I would have sued the airline and the regulator (CAA),” he said.
When asked about the letter that the pilots wrote to CAA Director General Air Marshal (R) Muhammad Yousaf, the spokesperson for the CAA said that he could not confirm receiving the letter.
“But I can assure you that the CAA will certainly look into this matter to find out what has happened,” he said.
As a regulator, the CAA is responsible if such issues emerge between employees and the airlines.
Reacting on these accusations, Air Indus Chairman Abdul Wahid told media that the two pilots are trying to damage the credibility of the airline for ‘personal grudges’.
“Some pilots have left the airline of their own accord. We never fired them, so they’re the ones who have breached the contract,” said Wahid, adding that the airline has paid all the salaries to its pilots on time.
He rejected the claim that the airline is compromising on safety standards, and said that most of the airline’s pilots are foreigners and well-trained.
Air Indus was incorporated on September 9, 2009 as an air transport company but it was marred with controversies since the start. There were rumours flying around that Faryal Talpur – sister of former President Asif Ali Zardari – owns the airline.
These rumours were so persistent that after denying them during an interview on a leading TV channel, former president Zardari ordered then defence minister – whose ministry controls the CAA – to cancel the operating licence of the company. Later, the airline had to approach the Sindh High Court to clear its licence.
Air Indus is jointly owned by Abdul Wahid and Abdul Wahab, who also serve as the company’s directors. Each of them has a 50% stake in the company, whose total paid-up capital is Rs100 million.