KARACHI: Amid challenges due to the open skies policy and internal issues facing the national carrier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has suspended operations to Kuwait and Salalah, Oman.
The decision follows the suspension of flights to New York, where PIA said ran into heavy losses.
PIA’s accumulated loss has jumped beyond Rs319 billion as of March-end 2017.
“Passengers of flights for Kuwait and Salalah (Oman), which will be temporarily suspended, will be re-accommodated through convenient alternatives. However, the resumption of operations will be considered based upon commercial merit and viability,” said a statement issued by PIA.
Experts in the industry say the national carrier is facing severe challenges after Pakistan opened its aviation industry for foreign airlines. Middle Eastern airlines pose the biggest challenge, threatening to eat away at PIA’s market share.
PIA’s fleet is also set to shrink since four of its aircraft, hired on wet lease, are completing their tenure. PIA will bring aircraft on a dry lease now.
Meanwhile, PIA is planning to introduce new destinations and increase its flights to Saudi Arabia and China. The decision has been taken after comprehensive analysis and detailed evaluation of existing network, said a PIA spokesperson.
“PIA has prepared a detailed business plan with focus on reduction in operating losses by minimising the cost structure and optimisation of revenues as a consequence of improvement in overall product and customer experience,” he said.
The company official said that flights to Jeddah will be increased from 28 to 31 per week and Medina from nine to 10 per week.
Keeping in view demand related to CPEC, flights to Beijing are also being doubled from 2 to 4 per week with operations from Islamabad and Karachi. Similarly, capacity on domestic routes is also being increased to provide better connectivity. New destinations, Guangzhou in China, Al-Qasim in Saudi Arabia and Mashad for Zaireen will also start, the statement said.
In this regard, the interiors of all existing Boeing 777 fleet are being upgraded.
“These efforts will be instrumental in re-structuring the airline through network rationalisation, product improvement and reduced cost base.”
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