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Thursday July 18, 2024

Q Airways gears up to start domestic flights by August

By Bilal Hussain
March 19, 2022

KARACHI: Q Airways is gearing up to start its domestic operations from July or August after fulfilling the conditions and receiving the air operation certificate. The airline has already been issued a regular public transport (RPT) license.

“We have already received the RPT,” said Chief Operating Officer S Kamran Hasan. “Now we are working to get eligible for an air operation certificate. We would start domestic operations as soon as we receive AOC.”

The investor behind Q Airways is Ramada Plaza Group, which is owned by Mohammad Anwar Qureshi. The official said there were no foreign investors in the airline but declined to share the total investment so far.

Hasan said that they were expecting to start operations by July or August. The new airlines were mandated to have six months of domestic operations before beginning international flights.

“We will initially be starting with three A320 aircraft. We want to expand after that and we would also try for international flights and increase our fleet to another two to three wide body aircraft,” he added.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Lakson Group in collaboration with Air Arabia is also preparing to begin Fly Jinnah operations. It is also working on its AOC.

Pakistan’s aviation is wary of the collaboration with a Middle East airline. They say Air Arabia was doing this to get more frequencies and slots in Pakistan, which otherwise was not possible. They say it was against global industry practice that a foreign airlines does not get frequencies and slots without reciprocation for local airlines by their country of origin.

With Q Airways and Fly Jinnah expected to start their operations soon, Pakistan’s aviation industry would have half a dozen airlines including PIA, Air Blue, Air Sial and Serene Air.

Pakistan’s aviation industry is bracing for tough competition ahead as the industry is yet to retrieve pre-pandemic business.

The international air traffic from Pakistan would rise above the 2018 level only by 2025, according to an analysis of Pakistan’s aviation industry published in an IATA Consulting report, which is a department of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Domestic air traffic would reach above the 2018 level in 2023.

With new airlines entering Pakistan’s aviation industry, the competition would be increasing for other airlines, including Pakistan's national carrier PIA, which has recently reported losses of Rs50 billion during the calendar year 2021.

However, Hasan said that Q Airways would initially be operating to cater the domestic aviation market, which was also huge. “Ticket fares go up to Rs40,000 of local airlines in some instances. So there is certainly a market for new airlines like us,” he added.