RAWALPINDI: Pak­istan International Air­lines (PIA) is operating at half of its capacity, with only 15 of its 29 modern aircraft currently in service, officials said.

This reduction came as the national flag carrier recently grounded 14 aircraft after financial constraints prevented it from buying necessary spare parts.

According to official sources, PIA’s operational fleet now comprises six Boeing 777 wide-body twin-engine aeroplanes, eight Airbus A320 narrow-body jets for short/medium haul routes, and one ATR aircraft.

This ATR has been particularly valuable for PIA, facilitating access to remote destinations across the country. However, the airline’s ability to provide such services has been hindered by the ongoing financial challenges.

Adding to PIA’s woes, two of its Airbus A320 aircraft were stranded in Indonesia since September 2021 due to a leasing dispute. Recently, one of these aircraft was retrieved and reintegrated into the fleet following a visit by a high-level PIA delegation and the aviation secretary in October.

The airline anticipates the return of the second stranded Airbus A320 by the end of this month, after settling outstanding payments with the leasing company.

A PIA spokesperson highlighted the acute funding shortages impacting the airline, leading to the grounding of several aircraft needing spare parts and maintenance. “With the government’s help, we hope to secure some crucial funding that will revive the majority of PIA’s fleet,” he said.

Meanwhile, PIA’s operations have been further disrupted by low visibility and heavy fog, particularly affecting flights from and to Lahore, Multan and Sialkot.

The PIA spokesperson advised passengers to check flight statuses with the airline’s call centre before heading to the airport.

Bag with Rs4m valuables returned

In a separate development, the Islamabad International Airport management returned a lost bag containing valuables worth about Rs4 million to a passenger on Wednesday.

After arriving in Islamabad from Karachi, a female passenger inadvertently left her bag in a baby changing room in domestic arrivals located at Level 2 of the terminal building, a Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson said.

The bag — containing 110 UK pounds (Rs22,830), 10 tolas of gold, two smartphones and a Swiss watch — was found by sanitary attendant Sobia Asif and handed over to the Lost and Found office.

Following verification, the bag was returned to its rightful owner, Tabassum Ara, who expressed gratitude towards the CAA management and Ms Asif.

In recognition of her honesty and professionalism, Ms Asif was awarded a certificate of appreciation and a monetary reward worth Rs25,000.

Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2023

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