RAWALPINDI: The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has decided to add eight new narrow-body aircraft to its fleet on dry lease.
The aircraft with seating capacity of 170-plus (all economy with soft divider after two rows) are expected to be delivered from January to December 2021.
The PIA management has sought bids from different parties by January 11 next year for acquiring the eight aircraft on dry lease, which means the airline would only acquire the aircraft without flight crew.
PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez Khan said the airline was looking to improve and modernise its fleet.
The spokesman said new aircraft would replace some of the older planes in the fleet. He added it was part of the business plan PIA had been working on for the past two years which got pushed back due to reduced demand owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Signs agreement to operate direct and daily dedicated cargo flights to China
According to the information available on the PIA website, the airline’s fleet comprises 37 aircraft — seven Boeing 777s, nine Airbus-320s and 21 ATRs.
PIA’s Chief Executive Officer Air Marshal Arshad Malik had said that 12 new aircraft will be added to the airline’s fleet by 2023. With the induction of the new aircraft the PIA’s fleet would go up to 45 by 2023.
Meanwhile, the PIA and Oriental Sky Aviation Ltd signed a landmark cargo charter agreement on Wednesday, paving the way for direct and daily cargo flights between Pakistan and China.
The PIA spokesman said that the instrument of agreement was signed by PIA’s general manager for charters and MD of Oriental Sky Aviation at the PIA offices.
PIA’s CEO Air Marshal Malik and Chief Commercial Officer Ali Tahir Qasim also attended the signing ceremony.
As per the agreement, PIA will operate seven weekly flights to Urumqi (China), with four flights a week originating from Islamabad and three flights from Lahore. It will be one of its kind operations as PIA has never operated daily cargo flights in this sector.
The national airline will be using its Airbus A320s for the said operations.
When contacted, the PIA spokesperson said that during the Covid-19 pandemic, airlines across the globe had seen unprecedented surge in demand for air cargo and many airlines were converting their passenger planes to cargo freighters to take advantage of this situation.
“PIA is also aggressively pursuing this path and we are evaluating and on a lookout for opportunities to operate dedicated cargo flights to a number of sectors, specifically on China and Central Asian routes.”
PIA is already operating passenger and cargo charters to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan and Xi’an in China for different customers.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Air Marshal Malik praised his commercial team for initiatives to augment the existing revenue. He thanked the MD of Oriental Sky Aviation for his patronage of PIA.
He said with a daily connection, trade and commerce between the two countries in post-Covid scenario would be greatly facilitated and would help in normalcy after perhaps the most devastating year for commercial aviation worldwide.
Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2020