The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) suffered losses amounting to more than Rs146 billion during the last four years, according to a statement submitted by the Minister in Charge of the Aviation Division.

The details, submitted in response to a question by PPP MNA Shahida Rehmani during the National Assembly session on Monday, stated that after rising losses in 2013, the trend reversed in 2014 and 2015, with the airline incurring 27 per cent less losses.

However, the reply stated, a surge in losses in 2016 was expected due to increasing financial expenses resulting from PIA's acquisition of new aircraft on lease and payment of mark-up on legacy loans, among other things.

The national flag-carrier thus incurred estimated losses worth Rs37bn in 2016 alone.

According to the details provided by the minister, the airline incurred the following losses in past four years:

  • 2013: 44.32 billion
  • 2014: 32.22 billion
  • 2015: 32.53 billion
  • 2016: 36.95 billion (estimated)

The revelation comes as the national carrier is mulling suspending its flight operation for the United States from January next year, primarily because of ‘low traffic’.

The airline has stopped booking for its twice-a-week flights for New York from November onward. However, it will continue to operate its two weekly flights — Lahore-New York and Karachi-Lahore-New York — until Dec 31.

“The PIA is considering closing its flight operation for the US till the financial health of the organisation improves,” a senior official privy to the development had told Dawn on Saturday. “The national flag carrier is already facing acute financial crunch, therefore, it cannot operate on routes which are running in losses,” the official had said, adding that the PIA’s accumulative loss was over Rs300 billion.

When contacted, PIA spokesman Mashood Tajwar had said that the decision regarding continuing the flight operation for New York after December would be taken in the coming weeks.