KARACHI: Aviation authorities, while acknowledging flaws in the existing open sky policy for commercial airlines, have kick-started the process of revising the policy to make it open as well as fair.
In that regard, a meeting chaired by the aviation secretary and attended by industry stakeholders was held at the Aviation Division which discussed the National Aviation Policy and proposed recommendations for its revision, according to a statement issued by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA).
After comprehensive deliberations, as proposed by the aviation industry stakeholders, the secretary constituted a committee comprising representatives from across the aviation sector.
The committee will submit its recommendations in the next two weeks, covering all facets of aviation including rationalisation of the policy to turn it into an open and fair sky policy, aircraft manufacturing and aviation taxes. It was aimed at reviving the aviation industry in order to support economic growth of the country.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has forecast that Pakistan’s air traffic will grow in double digits, but domestic traffic has risen only 3%. However, the international traffic exhibited a better expansion and rose 6% to 14.6 million passengers.
This indicates that domestic carriers are suffering on the back of a low per capita income in the country, at about $1,600, and if it remains stagnant, the industry will not grow further.
In addition to this, Middle Eastern airlines like Emirates and Etihad have given a tough time to Pakistan’s carriers, and to make matters worse, world’s leading carriers like Turkish Airlines and Saudi airlines are also operating in the country making the competition tougher for the domestic airlines.
Owing to this, Shaheen Air slashed its fleet to half from more than 15 aircraft to just 7. The company was the most vocal against the open sky policy. Five new players - Askari Air, Air Sial, Go Green, Liberty Air and Afeef Zara Airways - have applied for licences long ago but still there is no news of their upcoming entry into the market. Experts said the upcoming airlines were wary of the situation which was worsening day by day.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2018.
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