KARACHI: Pakistan International Airline’s reservation services software for domestic and international flights have become an unwanted utility for the airline.
The gradual reduction in the aircraft fleet, stagnant number of passengers and failed projects of the future that the airline has entered into legally are making the software a source of financial loss.
According to the sources, the US software company Saber has been providing PIA land services such as reservation of tickets and boarding passes for the last 17 years. PIA first entered into an agreement during the era of PIA former chairman Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
Later, during the era of former MD Captain Ejaz Haroon, the agreement was renewed for the next 10 years while the agreement has been prioritised to 2030 through a special clause. However, the fleet has been reduced from 42 to 32 airplanes and the software has become unwanted utility for the airline.
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According to a clause of the agreement, PIA had agreed to achieve an extraordinary target of carrying 275,000 Hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia but this number never exceeded 60,000 in the years that followed.
Consequently, PIA is annually paying for the services that Saber has never provided.
Sources told that the Saber system is fails to be useful due to its small bugs. PIA is suffering losses of billions of rupees every year because of the Saber software. Four days earlier, the flights schedule was affected because of the faults in the system.
The concurrent faults in the system have many times resulted in losses of thousands of rupees in a single day for the airline. The software’s link is frequently down, which creates problems and the passengers have to stay in long queues for hours.
PIA wants to get rid of the Saber system and want to get out of the agreement. However, there is no clause in the agreement about its termination.
The agreement was made with handling of an estimated 60,000 passengers. Moreover, there were 42 aircraft in the fleet of the national carrier, which included 13 Fokker aircraft. However, the PIA now has only 34 planes and the passengers it serves are also decreasing accordingly.
The national carrier has an option of entering into an agreement with a Turkish company for reservation and ticketing services, which will help to continue the operations without any interruption. With this in background, PIA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Turkish company in 2017 and finalised the agreement in the current year.
However, the airline seems to completely fail in getting rid of Saber because it is stuck in the quick sands up to the neck. The issue is being heard in the high-level courts in the country. According to sources, once free from Saber, PIA will save billions of rupees annually.
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