With Rs13b credit line, PIA going to acquire four small aircraft
December 5, 2017
Pakistan International Airlines Airbus A320, Photo by Hamza A. Mughal
By Salman Siddiqui
KARACHI: State-owned Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has kick-started the process of acquiring four small aircraft on dry lease by potentially utilising the recently approved bailout package of Rs13.2 billion.
“(Upcoming) narrow-body aircraft will replace four A320s in the fleet,” PIA spokesman Mashood Tajwar told The Express Tribune on Monday. The aircraft would be acquired on dry lease – without crew, ground staff, etc – for six to eight years, he said. For the purpose, the national flag carrier may utilise the available credit line of Rs13.2 billion from commercial banks backed by government’s sovereign guarantees, he said.
The airline is looking for those narrow-body aircraft that have the capacity for over 120 passengers, it has been learnt. “A320s and Boeing 737s may meet requirements of the airline,” Tajwar added. He said jets were being acquired to fill the gap that would emerge after the return of four A320s to Vietnam.
PIA had acquired the four narrow-body jets on wet lease for a period of six months in August to run its Hajj operations. “We will return the aircraft in one go in the next one to two months,” the spokesman said.
The narrow-body aircraft cover short to medium distances. In Pakistan’s case, they are run on domestic routes like Karachi-Islamabad-Lahore and fly to nearby international destinations like Gulf states. The national air carrier also announced that it had started flying between Lahore and Muscat twice a week. With this, the number of flights from different airports of Pakistan to Oman has risen to 11 per week.
“Lahore is a big city that will attract passengers from several parts of Punjab,” the spokesman said, adding PIA was already operating flights to Muscat from Sialkot and Islamabad airports.
“More flights will be operated on (other) profitable routes with better services to the passengers with the aim of increasing revenues of the airline, which will bring profit,” PIA CEO Musharraf Rasool Cyan said in a statement.
Responding to a question, the airline’s spokesman added the air carrier would operate direct international flights on short-to-medium routes from multiple airports of the country. However, for long routes, PIA will mostly fly passengers from across the country to the Karachi airport and from there they will be connected to their international flights.
Elaborating, the spokesman pointed out that “small jets are operated on short-to-medium routes whereas long-haul aircraft are used on long routes to make the flights commercially viable”.
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