Bhoja Air: A chequered history

Published: April 21, 2012

It was just last month that Bhoja Air relaunched, after a decade-long hiatus. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/ THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE


It was just last month that Bhoja Air relaunched, after a decade-long hiatus.

The airline was one of the first private carriers to start commercial service when the then prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, opened the country’s airspace in 1993.

Bhoja Air started international flights five years later – but the airline never could make it big. It’s only international destination was Dubai, and it was forced to suspend operations by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in 1999-2000 after failing to pay flying dues.

After restarting operations last month, the airline was allowed to operate domestic flights only, until it satisfied the regulator that it was keeping up with flight standards and regulations. Bhoja Air was among three private airlines which were vying to grab a share of growing air traffic in 2012. The airline was issued a flying permit after it had assured the CAA that it would repay dues and meet the necessary standards.

The carrier owns two Boeing 737-200 aircraft, which it had bought on a dry lease from a South African company. Another B-737 400 is pending regulatory approval from the CAA.

Airline chairman Farooq Omar Bhoja refused to comment on the accident. “We have issued the statement. What else do you want to ask me?”

Several local private airlines have gone bankrupt over the years, unable to compete with Middle East-based carriers.

Bhoja Air recently appointed Arshad Jalil as its managing director. Jalil was previously the CEO of Shaheen Air and owns an aircraft maintenance company.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2012.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Maher
    Apr 21, 2012 - 12:04PM

    Airline chairman Farooq Omar Bhoja refused to comment on the accident. “We have issued the statement. What else do you want to ask me?”

    See his attitude…. Mr. Farooq, as the Chairman of the group you are required to answer each and every question raised by the family member who lost their loved ones….


  • Farhan
    Apr 21, 2012 - 12:42PM

    I feel sorry for Bhoja Airlines. I can’t buy the newspaper report that plane was not airworthy. No pilot would fly a plane if it is not airworthy. However! having a crash at maiden flight is like disaster for a business. I do not see Bhoja Airlines flying ever again. Perhaps, Mr Omar Bhoja should change the name of airline to keep it afloat. We need cheaper airlines to break the monopoly of PIA


  • Chenab
    Apr 21, 2012 - 12:56PM

    I think we cant blame the airlines for the incident, it was the fault of the pilot


  • Yasir
    Apr 21, 2012 - 1:01PM

    We are the best nation, the airline with start operations again and we will forget all this in 2 months or less.


  • Talib
    Apr 21, 2012 - 1:18PM

    Mr. Omar should be taken into custody for being so rude. As a muslim we believe that it’s an accident and it’s the ill-fate of the victims; but Omar Bhoja should be polite with people inquiring about the accident and reach out to every family members of the victims to make them relax and pray for the deceased. For this rude attitude; I think he should be publicly kicked.


  • Fayaz khan
    Apr 21, 2012 - 2:11PM

    salam to all after that we are equaly share their grief and god bless those peoples who loss their family partner and replace their grief with happy movments by fayaz khan shinwari from khyber agency landi kotal


  • Mani
    Apr 21, 2012 - 2:19PM

    @Farhan: And who gave you that information? Lots of airlines in africa and former soviet union territories are flying old planes in conditions which no mainstream airline would ever dream of flying.


  • AHM
    Apr 22, 2012 - 4:09PM


    Sad to see that you feel sorry for Bhoja Air and suggesting these guys to commence airline with another name. You should have suggested suspedning the airline till completion of all investigation. Yes, I agree with you that we need cheaper airline but not at cost of people lives by compromising on safety and quality. Please read following article which is an eye opener.


  • A.H Adhia
    May 20, 2012 - 2:31PM

    Few facts need to put straight for media:

    Mr. Arshad Jalil owns 95% of Bhoja. After accident he sold 59% shares to Sky Jet, a Dubai-based company working for NATO and United Nations in Afghanistan. A case of 302 is pending against Mr. Arshad Jalil but he has failed to return from Dubai. In fact, at the time of accident he and his wife were in China and then the went to Dubai. Their son, who owns around 8% shares in Bhoja is in Karachi and his passport was recently confiscated by FIA.

    Unfortunately, the investigations are not being done properly due to immense pressure from many quarters. We don’t know whether Mr. Arshad is complacent in third class quality of the aircraft or not but he must be brought to the court of justice. By putting all blame on pilot is not correct. Unfortunately, such a big incident has not caused any suo moto notice in the court nor has our worthy PM or President addressed this issue properly.

    Same is the case with Air Blue investigations. And just 2 days back, again there was a major fault in Shaheen Airline aircraft. But our media was unable to follow the issue. CAA must be blamed. I sense lot of bribe in all this non-sense. Another disaster is waiting for Pakistani private carriers, if CAA does not put its foot down.


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