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Attack on Karachi airport
- Wednesday, June 11, 2014 - From Print Edition


KARACHI: Besides loss of precious human lives, the Sunday night attack at the Karachi airport has multipronged repercussions, including heavy financial losses to the national flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), official sources said on Tuesday.


The officials said that the losses were being assessed at the moment but the initial estimates suggested losses of millions of dollars. Three PIA planes, including a Jumbo, ATR and another sustained gunshots, while the entire flight schedule was disturbed, resulting in revenue losses, additional fuel costs and dent on the reputation, the officials said.


Mashud Tajwer, spokesman for PIA, said that the losses were being assessed at the moment and they would be able to give a number in a couple of days. “PIA planes suffered damage and are being thoroughly examined for fitness. Moreover the entire schedule was disturbed, which definitely would affect revenues and profitability,” Tajwer said. The accumulated losses of PIA hover around Rs180 billion.


Sources in the aviation industry said that most of the foreign airlines had already stopped coming to Karachi and the few left were also reluctant to land at Karachi.


Abid Kaimkhani, spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA); however, said that they did not have any such information as yet.


Industry people said that Karachi, which had already been termed a dangerous city and after several countries issued travel advisories, advising their citizens not to travel to Karachi, the current incident would further aggravate the situation, which would be reflected in the next six months.


Sources said that the attacks on the Karachi airport should not come as a surprise because there were so many security lapses, which had been pointed out time and again but no action was taken.


It was learnt that the non-operational aircraft, which were earlier parked in a junkyard, moved to a place facing ‘Pehalwan Goth’ by special aviation assistant, Shujaat Azeem. Some three months ago, these aircraft received gunshots from Pehalwan Goth, after which these aircraft were again moved.


The sources said that the airport security was not at all satisfactory, as the 14Sq-km premises, was protected by just a thin fence. Besides, the rainwater drains were unguarded; the sources said, adding that some time ago, a civilian had reached into the airport premises following his fighting roaster through these drains.


A detailed report in this regard had been forwarded to the authorities concerned but no action was taken.


Moreover, the head office of the national flag carrier is guarded by unarmed private security guards with no close circuit cameras or censors at work, the sources said.


They said that PIA did not have a primary security plan let alone the contingency plan; not even a single policeman can be seen guarding the PIA situation room. The CAA is often accused of inefficiency and lethargic behaviour, as the highest revenue earning authority does not spend much on security and infrastructure development, the sources said.


The CAA’s efficiency can be gauged by the fact that the attackers resorted to firing on ASF Academy and the flight operations were suspended for an hour on Tuesday, the passengers in the aircraft at runways were not evacuated instead they were served with food in the aircraft.