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Pakistan Airline Workers Extend Strike as Talks Fail

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Feb. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Workers of Pakistan International Airlines Corp., the national carrier, will continue their strike for a fifth day tomorrow after a second round of talks with the government failed to settle protests by pilots and baggage handlers over a plan to share routes with Turkish Airlines.

“There’s no outcome yet,” Suhail Baluch, president of the Pakistan Airlines’ Pilots Association, who is leading a delegation of workers, said by telephone from Islamabad after meeting Interior Minister Rehman Malik. The meeting followed one with a leader of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, Khursheed Ahmed Shah, a day earlier.

The work stoppage has delayed the departure of 150 flights since Feb. 7 and cost the airline about 2 billion rupees ($23.5 million), Mashhood Tajwar, a spokesman for the airline, said by telephone. All flights until at least 7 p.m. local time today were canceled, he said.

Pakistan International, which has about 17,500 employees, is in talks with Turkish Airlines to share services to Europe and North America to reduce costs, Tajwar said. Protestor representatives are scheduled to meet members of the nation’s senate today to seek a solution, said Shaukat Jamshed, president of the Society of Aircraft Engineers of Pakistan.

“Jobs are threatened because we feel revenue will fall if the deal goes through,” said Jamshed. “There is no way the airline will survive like this.”

Local television reports have shown airport security personnel baton-charging protesters in the arrival areas of airports including Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore.

Pakistan International reported its third straight quarterly loss in the three months ended Sept. 30. Net loss was 4.79 billion rupees ($56 million), with a loss of 5.38 billion rupees in the same quarter a year ago.

Pakistan Airlines fell 1.4 percent to 2.74 rupees at close on the Karachi Stock Exchange. The shares have gained 21 percent this year, compared with a 1.4 percent advance in the benchmark Karachi 100 Index.

To contact the reporter responsible for the story: Khurrum Anis in Karachi at kkhan14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for the story: Dave McCombs at dmccombs@bloomberg.net

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