During a stopover in Toronto, Faiza Mukhtar, a flight attendant for Pakistan International Airlines became the latest member of the airline’s crew to vanish in Canada. She was part of the crew for Islamabad – Toronto flight PK 781 on January 18. She was scheduled to work on the return flight PK 784 from Toronto to Karachi two days later but didn’t show up.
This keeps happening. PIA flight attendants leave their home country of Pakistan, and do not go back. The airline keeps having to cancel flights due to lack of crew. At least eight flight attendants have disappeared during layovers in Canada in the past two years.
The airline has taken steps to reduce the likelihood that this happens:
- They’re only assigning cabin crew over age 50 to Canada flights. Presumably older woman on their own are less likely to try to start a new life in another country.
- They’ve increased monitoring of crew during layovers.
If I were a Pakistan International Airlines flight attendant, I would probably no show my return trip from Toronto, too. The airline complains about Canada’s generous asylum procedures. These flight attendants may not even be breaking the law, and but the airline thinks that even asylum-eligible employees should be forced to return.
Pakistan International Airlines is best known for sacrificing a goat for safety and flying with more passengers than seats (and making customers stand for 1700 miles). The airline’s former CEO was actually detained as a result of his efforts to provide good seats and service by wet leasing aircraft from SriLankan.
Boeing 777 on Approach to New York JFK in 2014, Copyright zhukovsky / 123RF Stock Photo
The airline is so bad that even operating on time creates problems: customers build failure into their expectations and don’t actually show up for flights when they’re scheduled to depart. The airline keeps having planes repossessed, and hasn’t been operating its full fleet because the government airline cannot pay the government oil company for fuel.
Nonetheless, the Pakistan market is a large one and one of the drivers behind the United Airlines partnership with Emirates, and for the American Airlines partnership with Qatar Airways. A properly-run PIA could be profitable, but it’s been run as a political fiefdom and cookie jar for so long it’s unclear whether such a thing is possible.
The state carrier’s home country, though, has an economy that lags Haiti, Uzbekistan, and the Republic of Congo. The country is an Islamic Republic. A work colleague who once wrote for this blog used to describe her homeland as “the 12th century.” Getting people out is probably the single most valuable thing that Pakistan International Airlines can do?