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October 31, 2017

PIA under fire for retiring strategic routes


October 31, 2017

KARACHI:  Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has made a big mistake by closing down the New York route as it was not only a prestigious but also an important destination for the national flag carrier, a statement said on Monday. 

“This was a poor decision which will have far reaching impacts on commercial viability of the airline, while the financial damages incurred will have to borne by the carrier’s entire network,” said Capt. Khalid Hamza, president Pakistan Airline Pilots’ Association (PALPA), chairing a meeting of the body’s executive committee. 

“The current PIA management doesn’t have commercial aviation experience and should not have even thought of closing down this route because… the passengers once lost to other carriers will not be won back just like in the case of Mideast’s Pakistani diaspora, which has shifted on Gulf-based carriers.” 

Hamza said the PIA was being systematically ruined due to vested interest. “We had these prestigious landing rights since 1952 and the PIA was the first Asian airline to operate transatlantic flights on a jet airplane,” he added. 

He said, though less-profitable, it was a strategic route, and no airline in such a cut-throat competition was making huge profit out of these routes but it was the presence of a country’s flag, which was the most important thing here. 

“There should have been slot evaluation before taking such a drastic decision,” Hamza said adding, “Political appointees at the top level in PIA have been taking un-aviation-like decisions against the fleet planning and the management.” 

Hamza said the blurred-visioned top brass instead of expanding was actually shrinking the airline by planning further closures like, Barcelona, Milan and Paris. 

“Decisions like recent premier services and leasing an aircraft at 2700$ per hour when private airlines are leasing the same aircraft at 1800$ per hour, which can only muster kickbacks rather than profitability, are glaring examples of poor decision-making by the PIA management,” he added. 

According to the statement, the executive committee has decided to approach the Senate and National Assembly’s standing committees regarding the disastrous impact of shrinking of network. “Glasgow, Frankfurt, Chicago and many other profitable routes have been closed citing losses through juggling of figures, whereas the airline never closed its loss-making domestic routes like Gilgit, Chitral, Skardu, Gwadar, Pasni, and Zhob, due to noncommercial reasons,” the statement said.

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