KARACHI: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) told the federal government on Tuesday that the repayment of accumulated loans is the “biggest challenge” to the national carrier.
“The biggest challenge being faced by PIA is the repayment of legacy loans,” PIA CEO Bernd Hildenbrand said in a briefing to Adviser to Prime Minister on Aviation Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan at the airline’s head office.
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PIA has accumulated losses and liabilities worth over Rs300 billion. These include over Rs186 billion worth of bank loans, Rs40 billion dues of Civil Aviation Authority, over Rs13.5 billion dues of Pakistan State Oil and over Rs4.5 billion of the national exchequer. PIA pays around Rs4.4 billion on account of loans and mark-up every month, which is a major monthly expense.
“PIA plans to add more narrow and wide-body aircraft to its fleet this year. It plans to add more destinations in the months to come and increase frequency on existing profitable routes,” a statement quoted the CEO as saying. “Our goal is to reach a stage of operational breakeven as soon as possible.”
In 2016, 1.1 million more passengers travelled through PIA compared to 2015. Its domestic market share increased 19% and international share by 3% during the year.
The aviation adviser sought recommendations from the PIA management for bringing about improvement in all departments of the air carrier.
He directed PIA to take all steps necessary to bring the airline to international standards so that it could regain its past glory. “There should be no compromise on safety and the management should ensure that all decisions are taken on merit and in a transparent and efficient manner,” he said.
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“PIA is being supported from the taxpayers’ kitty, therefore, every possible step should be taken to reduce its losses and improve profitability.”
Khan said the use of modern technology should be the top priority of PIA and maximum funds should be invested in that area. PIA board member Syed Yawar Ali and Aviation Secretary and Acting Chairman M Irfan Elahi were present during the meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2017.
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