Sunday, December 23, 2012

PIA achieves profit for third month running

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi  
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

National Carrier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), has achieved an operating profit of Rs.738 million in November 2012 after having suffered losses of Rs.1272 million in the corresponding period last year. 

The airline earned the profit despite difficult economic conditions, fierce competition, rising fuel prices, foreign exchange losses and law and order situation, PIA said. 

It was for the third month running that there was significant increase in the airline’s revenue income due to, what was described as, dynamic policies of the present management which made the airline to achieve operating income since September this year. 

Although the airline faced a tough year yet successfully pushed its business forward in different areas with the credit attributed to the employees who made the airline to leap forward despite challenging times. 

The Managing Director, Mohammad Junaid Yunus, described it a testimony of the efforts of everyone connected with the airline. 

Explaining, he said PIA made successful Hajj operation this year and carried 98,000 hajjis achieving 96 percent flight regularity and winning punctuality awards from Saudi Civil Aviation Authorities. 

PIA’s operational profits during the last two months, demonstrated that the airline is able to achieve higher levels of profitability, he remarked. 

Having a forward look for the next year, Junaid Yunus believed that opportunity exists to continue on improving the financial health of the airline and it is satisfying to see the airline making progress and the efforts being made laying the foundation for the company's future. 

He said the focus of the present management is on cost reduction, improvement, and expansion in network, yield and revenue. 

Robust business plan for transformation is the roadmap for going forward, he said adding that it will be a long, winding and difficult journey requiring unleashing of talents by all the employees with support and patronage from valuable customers. 

He hoped the business transformation plan will transform the airline into a strong, dynamic and vibrant institution, aggressively bracing new opportunities and absorbing external shocks. 

According to him, the induction of new aircrafts in PIA fleet would be the turning point for the airline as it will be the foundation of being able to deliver cost cutting on fuel and improve punctuality and regularity bringing back the confidence of the customers. 

He asserted that these aircrafts should have been introduced more than a decade back since the centre of PIA’s network is short haul operations (within four hours) which comprises 64 percent of total operations, the newer aircraft if brought earlier would have been cardinal for the airlines financial conditions revival.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Riphah Institute of Public Policy’s seminar highlights Public Private Partnership

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The concept of public-private partnership was advocated at a seminar on Public Private Partnership, jointly organized by the Riphah Institute of Public Policy (RIPP) and the Infrastructure Project Development Facility (IPDF) at Marriott Hotel, Islamabad, on December 20.  

The distinguished speakers shared their views on the subject and stressed on the need for providing a boost to public-private participation concept to promote the cause of the country's greater progress.  
Senior government functionaries from different ministries, including Finance, Housing, Railways, P&D and Agriculture, also participated in the one-day policy seminar and deliberated on the possibilities of involving the private sector in infrastructure projects.

They appreciated the level of knowledge displayed by the presenters and emphasized that such conferences should take place more frequently. The seminar provided an opportunity to the academia to join hands with the government and to analyze the important issue. It covered the entire project life-cycle on public-private partnership, discussing the institutional and supporting framework and the best practices in procurement of such projects.

The Riphah Institute of Public Policy (RIPP) has been recently established at Islamabad by Riphah International University as part of its commitment to further the cause of education and research in the discipline of public policy.  

Besides its academic programs of Masters in Public Policy, the RIPP also provides a non-partisan and academic forum for conducting debates on important public policy issues.

Mohammed Ishfaq Khattak, Director RIPP, in his opening remarks welcomed the participants from different ministries and highlighted the fiscal limitations currently faced by the government, the unsatisfactory working of the Public Sector Enterprises and ever-increasing need for investment in the infrastructure projects.

Prof. Dr. Anis Ahmed, Vice Chancellor, Riphah International University, emphasized the importance of the role of private sector and said that such seminars would go a long way in developing connectivity between the academia and government sector.

Such interactions, he observed, are common in the developed world and the government benefits from the research and new knowledge created in universities.

The Riphah University, he said, had established RIPP for this purpose, and it would endeavor to maintain the linkages between the government and academia through RIPP. He said the recommendations of the seminar would be shared with the stake holders.  

Adil Anwar, CEO, IPDF, stressed the importance of the public-private partnership in Pakistan and mentioned the shrinking PSDP budget for infrastructure projects.

He said in order to spur economic growth Pakistan should promote private sector participation. He also gave an overview of the programme and the projects in pipeline, revealing that their costs exceeded US$ three billion.  

Ali Malik, Infrastructure Specialist, IPDF spoke about the supporting framework including the creation of viability gap fund aimed to bridge funding gap for projects which are economically viable but are not financially feasible.

Ahmad Aslam, Senior Infrastructure Specialist presented principles and best practices of procurement. He stressed pre-procurement planning and positive attitude are key to successful implementation of the projects.  
Mohammed Awais, Senior Legal Advisor, IPDF, spoke at length about the standardized contractual provisions specifically drafted such projects. The IPDF, he remarked, has developed comprehensive standardized contractual provisions to safeguard interests of the public sector while securing the private sector investments.

The vote of thanks was presented by Ishfaq Khattak in which he acknowledged the participants for their valuable inputs and announced that the policy seminar would be followed by focused workshops on public-private partnership in different sectors like energy, transport, agriculture, environment, production and industries. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Supplementary exams underway at Sir Syed University

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi  
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The supplementary examinations for students of all the eight semesters commenced at the Sir Syed University of Engineering & Technology (SSUET), Karachi, on December 13. 

The arrangements for over 900 students appearing in the exams in the engineering disciplines of Civil, Electronics, Computer Bio-Medical and Telecom were reviewed at a meeting held under the chairmanship of Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Jawed Rizvi. 

The Vice-Chancellor expressed satisfaction over the arrangements made separately for old as well as new students. He directed that the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for security arrangements should strictly be followed and no compromise on this aspect will be acceptable. 

Dr Jawed Rizvi also reviewed the ongoing admission process and it was informed that the first merit list has already been issued whereby over 1000 eligible students as per the Higher Education Commission (HEC) criteria have been sent offer letters at their home addresses besides having it published on the university's website.

The meeting was told that December 17 is the last date for depositing of admission and semester fee. The first merit list was issued on December 8. 

The Vice-Chancellor said that if some seats remained vacant after December 17, the university will issue second merit list. The meeting also reviewed the arrangements for the ‘Orientation Day’ to be held on January 7, 2013, when new session’s classes will start. 

The meeting was attended, among others, by Registrar Shah Mahmood Hussain Syed, and Chairpersons of the various departments.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Engr Z A Nizami vows to continue Aligarh’s sporting spirit alive at SSUET

Pakistan News & Features Services

The Sir Syed University of Engineering & Technology (SSUET) has vowed to keep the Aligarhian spirit alive by continuing the policy of promoting sports in a big way. 

Engr Z A Nizami, Chancellor, SSUET, and President, Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys Association (AMUOBA), renewed the pledge while talking to a group of sports journalists at the University campus in Gulshan-e-Iqbal on December 10. 

Ali Zafar Khan Afridi, Joint Secretary (Sports), AMUOBA, who had secured admission in the Aligarh University in the 1940s on the basis of his all-round excellence in swimming, was also present on the occasion. 

“The legendary Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, who is credited to have played the pioneering role in enlightening the people of South Asia, laid great emphasis on education and sports. That’s why sports featured prominently in the list of priorities at the Aligarh University which he founded. The first-ever covered swimming pool of international standard in the entire region was built there,” Engr Nizami, who himself played tennis while studying at the famous Aligarh University, revealed. 

“The SSUET, founded by the AMUOBA in 1994, has been following the principles of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and the university has carried forward the Aligarhian spirit of sports among its students. We are delighted to be the largest university of the country in the private sector with more 5,000 students enrolled,” the SSUET Chancellor observed. 

“Special consideration is given to the outstanding athletes at the time of admission where the sports certificates carry certain marks. The performance in sports also helps them in getting scholarships,” Engr Nizami, who also served as the Director General of the Karachi Development Authority (KDA), added. 

“We have developed sporting facilities at the ground, owned by the Karachi Hockey Association, which is just opposite our campus. We encourage and support our students to actively take part in sports and quite a few of our teams have fared well in many competitions across the country,” he elaborated. 

“We have planned even bigger things for sports in future. We have decided in principle to build a sports complex in our new campus which is to be spread over 200 acres. Besides providing facilities for indoor games at the sports complex, we will also make an athletics field and a swimming pool,” he revealed. 

“At present we have space constraints here. Otherwise we would have developed more facilities than we actually have at the moment. Since sports remains in the list of our priorities we will make amends by building infrastructure projects that would serve the generations to come,” he announced. 

“We have passion and determination to play a lead role in motivating the students to engage in healthy activities like sports. We fully understand its importance and significance,” the SSUET Chancellor said. “Among the other initiatives to be launched in the near future are instituting ‘Athlete of the Year’ award at the SSUET,” Engr Nizami concluded.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

PIA acquiring new aircrafts through transparent tender process

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi  
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The immediate goal before the PIA management is to bring down the average age of its fleet and improve reliability and punctuality with on time departures and arrivals besides providing world class customer service. 

A PIA Spokesman informed the PNFS on December 6 that the airline, under the present management which barely had few weeks, has started a process of fleet modernization and revamping of its entire service to achieve turn around in shortest possible time with its new business model. 

"Already the airline has entered the operating profit during the last two months-September–October 2012,” he disclosed. 

He clarified that PIA has not finalized particular type of aircrafts, adding that tenders have been floated for acquiring five narrow body aircraft with delivery of at least four in first and the fifth one in the second quarter of 2013 so as to cope with the capacity shortfall. 

PIA has received offers for both Airbus A320 and Boeing 737-800. However, A320 offers are larger in number as compared to Boeing 737-800. Presently, these offers are being evaluated and no final decision regarding induction of either narrow-body aircraft has been finalized. 

He made it clear that the tender for these aircrafts has not yet been awarded and the evaluation process was still not complete. It is, therefore, premature to assume which aircraft or engine type will be inducted. 

“Speculative reports create undue bias for evaluators and they may not be in the best interest of the national airline,” the spokesman felt. 

He said it was for the first time in PIA’s history that their Managing Director, Mohammad Junaid Yunus, invited Transparency International Pakistan to monitor the bidding process. 

In addition to TIP, representative of the Ministry of Defence, Employees’ Unions including SAEP were also present in the financial and technical bid opening process while TIP was taken onboard during the evaluation process relating to not just this tender but in fact all future tenders would be forwarded to TIP for scrutiny. 

According to him, PIA was spending 55 percent of its revenue on fuel. Newer an aircraft provided fuel savings up to 50% for a route flown as well as lower maintenance costs. 

PIA’s 63 percent operation is on short haul routes, within four hours of flight time. 

He said PIA is following a clear point-based system where points are awarded based on fleet commonality and availability of present apparatus for overhaul of engines. 

The spokesman said that PIA would not go for one criterion, especially with the rapid advances in technology in aviation. What matters is the cost benefit analysis of these aircraft and therefore financial cost and availability of these aircraft also play an important role, he said adding that PIA cannot afford to wait years on end to suit the schedule of a particular vendor or manufacturer. 

It is pertinent to mention that any further delay in the induction of new aircraft will result in the delay of the turn around of the airline, which was noted by the Board of Directors and Government Pakistan, he concluded.

MoU for energy conservation signed between PIA and KESC

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Managing Director PIA, Mohammed Junaid Yunus has said that the airline management is committed to implement Energy Conservation Program, not due to high energy cost, but as a social responsibility for rational power use.  

He was speaking at the MoU signing ceremony between the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) for Energy Conservation held at the PIA Headquarters in Karachi on December 5.

The MoU was signed by Capt Junaid for PIA while Tabiss Gohar signed for KESC. He said that PIA’s Green Team is working for Safe Environment for future and the saving achieved will help minimize cost, time and resources.

"We are committed to protect the environment and comply with environmental laws, regulations and methods of conservation,” he remarked. Speaking on the occasion, CEO KESC Tabish Gohar described PIA a potential customer of KESC and said the power utility looks forward for strengthening the existing relationship between the two organizations.  

KESC, he assured, will fully corporate with PIA in saving energy cost through cost cutting measures. Although it may reduce KESC's revenue but saving of important resource will be of great benefit, he added.

KESC's Director Energy Conservation, Asif Siddiqi, in his remarks, pointed out that that PIA would save 30 percent in its electric bills by introducing energy conservation programme at its Head Office and Training Centre.

It may be mentioned here that PIA is currently spending about Rs 50 million a month on power consumption at its head Office and Training Centre and by implementing energy conservation plan it is expected to save around Rs.200 million annually in its electricity bills.

MD PIA Junaid Yunus explained that the PIA Green Team has worked tremendously on power conservation during the last couple of years which saved Rs 7 million in diesel consumption last year despite rising cost of diesel.

He said PIA saved another Rs 3 million in one month as compared to September 2011 by rationalizing office timings.

He assured KESC of full cooperation during Energy Audits and also for technical collaboration in matters of energy and environment conservation.