PIA to induct five more aircraft into fleet: aviation minister

Published March 4, 2020
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will induct five more aircraft into its fleet by the end of the year, Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan said on Tuesday. — Wikimedia Commons/File
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will induct five more aircraft into its fleet by the end of the year, Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan said on Tuesday. — Wikimedia Commons/File

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will induct five more aircraft into its fleet by the end of the year, Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan said on Tuesday.

During an informal interaction with the press at the Aviation Division, Mr Khan said that PIA’s losses have decreased considerably due to improved management. Aviation Secretary Hassan Nasir Jamy and Senior Joint Secretary Abdul Sattar Khokhar were also present.

Mr Khan said that the segregation of functions within the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) into two divisions —commercial (airport services) and regulatory — was in process and would be completed by March 31. Both authorities will be headed by separate directors general, but will be under the Aviation Division.

He added that PIA would start operating direct flights to the United States after receiving security clearance. A team from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) team is arriving in Islamabad within the next few days with a business plan, he said.

“Direct flights to the US will start if the US TSA team gives security clearance,” he said.

Mr Khan said that aviation authorities did not allow Emirates to operate the A-380 aircraft — the world’s largest passenger plane — to Pakistan due to PIA’s reservations.

PIA’s fleet consists of 31 aircraft operating on international and domestic routes. Five will be added to the fleet by the end of the year, he said, as the process of acquiring a wide-body and two narrow-body aircraft has begun.

Two aircraft grounded by the PIA — a Boeing-777 and an Airbus A320 — have been repaired at a cost of $3 million and made serviceable, he added. He said these plans will be used for Hajjoperations.

When asked about the PIA ATRthat was damaged while landing at Gilgit airport on July 20, 2019, Mr Khan said the plane is still grounded.

He also said that the expansion of the Quetta and Faisalabad airports has been completed and the ground-breaking of the Quetta airport runway will be held on Thursday.

Mr Khan also criticised the increase in international and domestic air fares. He said the issue was discussed by the cabinet, but the increase was related to International Air Transport Association rulesand currency devaluation.

He said the number of passengers has increased on international routes and decreased on domestic ones. He attributed the fall in domestic passengers to high air travel fares and the fact that air travel is time consuming, saying that people prefer to travel by road because it is cheaper and takes less time.

He also claimed that because of the government’s aviation policy, private airlines were showing an interest in starting operations. He said the airline Sial Air would begin flight operations on domestic routes with three aircraft possibly in April, as their management has completed paperwork. He also hoped they would charge lower fares than other airlines.

Mr Jamy, the aviation secretary, said that five new scanners – each worth $50,000 – have been installed at the Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar airports where passengers are being scanned by health authorities facilitated by the CAA.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2020

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