ISLAMABAD – Aviation Secretary Irfan Elahi has been made the acting chairman of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

Sqn Ldr (r) Muhammad Irfan Elahi.
Sqn Ldr (r) Muhammad Irfan Elahi.

In a major reshuffle of the federal bureaucracy, Prime Minis­ter Nawaz Sharif approved new assignments for about a dozen grade-22 and 21 officers on Wednesday. Mr. Irfan Elahi was one of them.

The PM’s decision comes a week after Azam Saigol resigned from the post. Although Mr Saigol cited “personal reasons” for his resignation, sources believed he was under pressure to step down after a PIA ATR-42 aircraft crashed into the hillside near Havelian area of district Abbottabad, killing all 42 passengers and five crew members on board.

Saigol, a well-known industrialist of the country, with vast experience in handling big industrial concerns and corporations under his belt, had been part of PIA’s board of directors since 2013. The government had appointed Saigol as chairman of the national flag carrier in May 2016.

Following the horrific crash of PK-661 on December 7, Pakistan International Airlines decided to ground all ten remaining ATR aircraft in its fleet, pending further examination in a bid to avoid any mishap in the future.