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Thursday July 18, 2024

PIA gears up for direct flights to Australia for the first time

Initially, PIA plans to have two weekly flights – to and from Karachi and Lahore to Sydney

By Bilal Hussain
February 16, 2022
The PIAs direct flights would reduce the time period of a traveller to 12:30 hours and 13 hours if one is going to Australia or coming to Pakistan respectively. -Fie photo
The PIA's direct flights would reduce the time period of a traveller to 12:30 hours and 13 hours if one is going to Australia or coming to Pakistan respectively. -Fie photo

KARACHI: Pakistan International Airline (PIA) has been planing to run two weekly flights to Australia, which would reduce travelling time by approximately one-third to and from down under.

“If it (flights to Australia by a Pakistani carrier) happens, it would be happening for the first time ever,” said PIA spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez. “We have run the feasibility, which says it would be beneficial for the airline.”

Initially, PIA plans to have two weekly flights – to and from Karachi and Lahore to Sydney. Later, PIA may also add Islamabad as well.

The national carrier says that if everything goes well then flights might begin late March or early April. However, the airline is yet to get approval from the Australian aviation authority.

The direct flights would reduce the time period of a traveller to 12:30 hours and 13 hours if one is going to Australia or coming to Pakistan respectively.

Since there are no direct flights between Pakistan and Australia, it currently takes 34 to 35 hours to travel with stopovers, which increases travelling time for passengers.

“Every airline has to touch their hub before moving towards their destination,” said Travel Agents Association of Pakistan (TAAP) Chairman Nadeem Sharif. “There can be stopovers of eight hours or even overnight stays, which increases travelling time.”

He explained that for instance if a person was going to Australia through Qatar Airways from Pakistan, presently, he or she has to first go to Doha – the Qatar Airways hub and then from there, the person would be taken to Australia. Similarly, the same thing would happen when a person comes to Pakistan from Australia.

PIA has worked out its plans and has already done its in-house work, however, it would depend on the Australian aviation authorities if they allow PIA and give it slots.

Recently, an international aviation firm, IATA Consultancy presented a business plan for PIA, which if implemented would see the loss-making state owned enterprise making its operations break even by 2025 and record 3.4 percent profits the next year.

The comprehensive business plan covers the period from 2022 to 2026.

The implementation of the plan would see PIA assets going up from the current $1.196 billion to $2.183 billion by 2026.

PIA reported a loss of Rs34.6 billion in the financial year 2020.

Experts see the losses to have increased significantly in FY2021 because of the pandemic and more importantly the chain of events that ensued following the fake pilot licenses scandal, which saw Pakistani pilots ineligible to fly to US and Europe.

PIA’s fleet is expected to grow from the current 29 to 49 by 2026, comprising 16 wide body, 27 narrow body and 6 turbo propeller aircraft. The PIA’s share price increased by 1.24 percent on Tuesday to Rs4.09.