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PIA suffered Rs400bn losses in decade, says PM’s adviser

PIA suffered Rs400bn losses in decade, says PM’s adviser

ISLAMABAD: Revealing that the cumulative losses incurred by the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) over the past 10 years amounted to Rs400 billion and it suffered a loss of Rs40bn last year alone, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Aviation Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan on Tuesday said a business plan aimed at reviving the lost glory of the national flag carrier was ready for presentation to the federal cabinet next week.

Talking to reporters after travelling in the first refurbished Boeing 777 aircraft from Karachi to Islamabad, he said there was a lot of potential in the aviation industry and the business plan, once approved, would benefit the PIA and positive changes would be witnessed within the next two to three years.

“The PIA will increase its fleet strength to 50 aircraft by 2019, which is part of the business plan,” he said, adding that efforts were under way to arrest the trend of losses suffered by the airline.

Sardar Mehtab said he would ask the government to give a one-time bailout package to the PIA because it found it difficult to make payments against $2bn loans. The situation would improve if the government took this responsibility, he added.

National flag carrier’s business plan ready for cabinet presentation

In reply to a question, he said there would be no need to privatise the airline, if the business plan was implemented.

He said the PIA had started refurbishing and changing interior of its entire fleet and its first Boeing 777 aircraft, which had been refurbished at the PIA engineering base in Karachi, operated flight PK-300 to Islamabad. This was an in-house project to utilise engineering capabilities of the airline and all its aircraft would be refurbished, he said, adding that food and services were being improved and the engineering department strengthened.

The aviation adviser said that detailed upgrade of five Boeing 777 aircraft from nose to tail, involving a cost of $55 million, had also been planned. These five aircraft to be used for long hauls would have new economy and business class seats, in-flight entertainment system, etc, and one of such aircraft would be ready by next year, he added.

He said the planes grounded for want of spare parts would be made operational as part of the revival plan.

He said action against would be taken against ‘organised mafias’ operating within the PIA to mint money at the cost of the national flag carrier. “There will be zero tolerance for corruption.”

He made it clear that corruption, indiscipline and laxity would not be brooked at any cost, but rejected the rumours about downsizing in the PIA.

Answering a question about closure of the New York route, Sardar Mehtab said a decision had been taken in principle to temporarily suspend the US operation, but it was yet to be implemented. It was not a viable route because of lack of traffic, he added.

He said the open sky policy had created competition, but unfortunately other airlines had been given frequencies in the past that damaged the interest of the PIA and other domestic private airlines. He said that now no new requests for frequencies were being entertained.

In reply to a question, the adviser agreed that some senior managers had to be removed from their positions, but said it had been done in the best interest of the airline as they were not cooperating in the restructuring programme.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2017

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