CAA allows Indian-owned Rayyan Air to start domestic operations

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KARACHI - The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has permitted Rayyan Air, owned by two Indian nationals Jaidip Merchandani and Nithin Merchandani for starting domestic flight operations in Pakistan as a registered private airline. 

The past five years have not only seen imminent financial collapse of state-owned PIA, but complete downfall of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the regulatory body for all private and commercial aviation business in Pakistan.

Appointment of corrupt people without any executive management skills, integrity or qualifications to head CAA in violation of ethics and conflict of interests has not only compromised flight safety, but also declared national security interests of Pakistan.

The PIA chairman and MD have given almost 50 to 60 percent salary hike to its overstaffed airline, effectively hiking the year to year administrative cost by 77 percent, while the airline has no funds to buy spare parts for its aircraft, with the result that almost half the fleet is grounded. PIA losses have escalated to Rs 160 billion, making it technically insolvent, yet the past five years have witnessed an unprecedented rise in recruitment to all cadres, including pilots, while rehiring on contract those who have retired, although both fleet and crew utilisation of PIA is amongst the lowest in the world.

Capt Nadeem Yousufzai, a permanent employee of PIA, was appointed as CAA director general in violation of all ethics and ICAO rules. Not only the principle of conflict of interest was violated by appointing a pilot on payroll of an airline to be regulated by CAA, but serious compromises on flight safety were allowed by the corruption dominated mafia within the regulatory body.

During Yousafzai’s tenure, Fazalullah Pechuhu was made CFO of CAA and Hyder Jalal was hired as consultant to CAA. Commercial aviation flight safety was compromised by rampant corruption and abuse of so-called discretionary powers of CAA, which were basically given to ensure strict compliance of ICAO rules by airlines’ regulated by the regulator, but were instead abused to grant undue favors and permissions.

There was a loot sale of routes to airlines willing to oblige the competent executives within CAA. Grant of routes to airlines is dictated by bilateral agreements between countries, with emphasis to protect the vital commercial interests of state and private-owned national aviation industry of the country, while ensuring a level playing field and offering a competitive choice of fares to the public. Instead what has been witnessed is creation of monopolies and cartels such as the PIA-Saudia Hajj/Umrah fare agreement, which has reaped a bonanza for travel agents and tour operators in this lucrative religious tourism business, instead of offering affordable choice of fares by competing airlines, with benefits to pilgrims. By strange coincidence almost every politically well connected individual, who has held senior executive assignment within PIA or CAA has strangely opened their own airlines, while the profitability of state owned national airline and regulator has declined with passage of years. This is true for Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, chairman Air Blue, Arshad Jaleel, MD Bhoja Air, and now the junior Yusafzai getting permission for opening yet another airline immediately following his father’s tenure as MD PIA and DG CAA. Shaheen Airlines was another such airline, but it was started as a project of Shaheen, a subsidiary of PAF.

CAA Pakistan and its board of directors, which for decades has been placed under administrative control of Ministry of Defence, presumably to protect the national security interests of this country, on grounds that Pakistan airspace, because of sensitive geographical strategic location needs to be strictly administered by sensitive agencies. The manner in which aviation accident reports, such as Air Blue, Bhoja Air accidents have been clouded with secrecy for benefit of the owners and disadvantage of heirs of unfortunate victims of these crashes has exposed the corruption riddled bureaucracy of CAA, which has failed to protect the interests of travelling public, whose taxes contribute to massive profits of CAA, making it one of the most profitable state owned corporations of Pakistan. CAA Pakistan has given four new airlines permission to start regular commercial flight operations in Pakistan. One of these airlines is owned by none other than the son of Capt Nadeem Yusafzai, who for past five years has been serving as MD PIA, DG CAA.

While both these organisations have slumped to new lows, the two cronies of PPP, Capt Aijaz Haroon and Capt Nadeem Yousufzai, responsible for financial collapse of PIA have prospered overnight and become business tycoons. Corruption-riddled CAA, which like PIA is under the ministry has given permission to Rayyan Air, owned by two Indian nationals Jaidip Merchandani and Nithin Merchandani for starting domestic flight operations as a registered private airline, in spite of clear rules which debar access to such flight operations to an airline owned by individuals, or groups who hold Indian nationality, because such permission gives them free access to all Pakistani airspace, designated airports and alternate airports, some of them in use of sensitive military aviation services.

Earlier, CAA had given Aerospace Consortium FZE, PO Box 1726, based in Fujairah UAE, owned by these two Indian nationals to get their cargo fleet aircrafts registered with CAA Pakistan, which operate cargo flights under two different airlines namely Rayyan Air and Veterans Air mostly used for transporting NATO /IASF equipment from and to


Courtesy: Pakistan Today

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