Shaheen Air to resume post-Hajj operations

FBR allows office to re-open after bank guarantee

Usman Hanif August 26, 2018
Shaheen Air, which was once termed the second largest airline of the country due to its fleet of 16 aircraft, now has only seven airplanes left. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: Shaheen Air International’s (SAI) will resume its post-Hajj operation on Monday as the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has now allowed it to reopen its head office.

The FBR ordered the office be sealed after SAI failed to clear dues amounting to Rs1.4 billion under the head of taxes.

It allowed SAI to reopen its head office on Friday after the company submitted a bank guarantee of Rs1.4 billion, according to a statement released by Shaheen Air.

The FBR will get formal validation of the bank guarantee on Monday. Meanwhile, it has allowed SAI to restart its operation, which has been suspended multiple times not only by the FBR but also by the Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) as the company did not transfer the amount it collected from passengers as taxes or fees to the authorities.

In June, the FBR sealed the airline’s head office but it was reopened when the company gave assurance to pay the then outstanding dues amounting to Rs910 million.

“Matters with the FBR are settled now,” said SAI Marketing Head Zohaib Hassan. “SAI Post-Hajj operation will commence from Monday August 27.”

On August 2, the CAA suspended SAI’s domestic operations which are yet to be restored as the airline has to pay over Rs1 billion to the authority. “In a few days, SAI will also resume its domestic operation,” said Hassan. “By Tuesday, it will clear CAA dues as well.”

SAI, which was once termed the second largest airline of the country due to its fleet of 16 aircraft, now has only seven airplanes left.

The airline has endured a tough time recently as competition in the aviation industry eats away at market share. Pakistan’s domestic air transport grew only 3% in fiscal year 2016-17 which was far lower than what the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicted. The IATA forecasted 9.9% growth till 2020.

SAI returned three Airbus A320 aircraft in late July. It earlier subleased six Airbus A319-100s to the Royal Jordanian Airline. The airline has often blamed the open skies policy for its financial condition, arguing that increasing competition in a small market has pushed local carriers into a corner.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2018.

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