Attack causes heavy losses to airlines, traders

June 11, 2014


LAW-enforcement personnel enter a locality near the airport on Tuesday to carry out a search operation.—White Star
LAW-enforcement personnel enter a locality near the airport on Tuesday to carry out a search operation.—White Star

KARACHI: Militants who launched an audacious attack on Karachi airport’s Terminal One managed to cause a colossal loss to the exchequer as total five aircraft were damaged and imported goods and items to be exported abroad stored in two cargo warehouses have been reduced to ashes as a result of the attack, it emerged on Tuesday.

However, so far no one knows for sure about the exact financial losses to the government, the airlines and the traders.

Two of the five aircraft are owned by the Shaheen Air International (SAI), while the remaining three are owned by the cash-strapped Pakistan International Airlines.

The planes had been hit either by bullets or pieces of shrapnel.

SAI deputy managing director Faisal Rafique told Dawn that two Boeing 737-400s had been damaged. He said one aircraft had been grounded due to a major damage. The second aircraft would be back to operations soon since it was slightly damaged in the attack.

He said that the airlines were assessing the exact cost of the damage.

Sources said that three aircraft of the PIA — Boeing-747, A-310 and Boeing-777 — which were either in the engineering department or parked nearby sustained damage during the attack. However, as the government announced that no aircraft had been damaged, the PIA management preferred to stay quiet about its losses.

PIA spokesperson Mashhood Tajwar told Dawn that the three aircraft were parked in an area where militants and security forces fought pitched gun battles.

However, he said that he could not say if any of the aircraft had been hit, or if hit, then what was the nature or scale of the damage.

Since air safety was involved, the PIA was thoroughly checking the aircraft to see if these had been affected, he said, adding that a complete picture would emerge in the next few days.

Goods burnt in fire in warehouses

Traders and importers feared heavy financial losses as their valuables had been destroyed in the fire that broke out in the two cargo warehouses.

“I am not sure about the number but there are dozens of our members [traders] whose goods were there [ in the warehouses],” said Karachi Electronics Dealers Association’s President Muhammad Idrees. “Most goods are imported mobile phones and their accessories.”

He said so far the Civil Aviation Authority and the security administration had not allowed the traders to visit the warehouses. The private operators of the two warehouses were also not coordinating in an effective way, he added.

“Things may become clear tomorrow (Wednesday),” said Mr Idrees, who is also the vice president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI). “The government should announce some kind of compensation, as majority of importers could not sustain the losses.”

The customs could not give even a rough estimate about the cost of the goods burnt.

Meanwhile, KCCI president Abdullah Zaki expressed his serious reservations over the so-called targeted operation in the city, saying it had not yet yielded desired results.

“The situation continues to worsen and the overall insecurity of this city can exactly be gauged from the recent airport assault,” he said in a statement. “Under the prevailing circumstances, even domestic travellers are afraid of visiting Karachi due to the airport attack whereas the rising lawlessness across the city along with live coverage of such incidents by TV channels is likely to keep foreigners, particularly the businessmen and investors, away from Pakistan.”

Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2014