KARACHI: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), which is expanding its wings in an attempt to make profit, is set to add the eighth new route in a period of four months.
“In its drive to attract more passenger traffic, the national air carrier is in just three days opening three new routes,” said PIA spokesperson Mashood Tajwar.
On Wednesday morning, PIA started the Multan-Sharjah route and on Thursday, it began flying on Peshawar-Sharjah route. Now, it is set to begin flights between Peshawar and Al Ain - the third largest city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the eastern border with Oman.
“Peshawar to Al Ain is the eighth new route in the last four months,” said the spokesperson. The airline is reprioritising its international routes keeping in view the changing international traffic patterns and opportunities in foreign countries.
In mid-February, it stopped flying on the Japan route as such flights had to go via Beijing and the Japanese government had allowed PIA only 80 passengers, which was not economical for the airline.
In late 2017, the national flag carrier had stopped flying on the New York route as well as it had to land in another country before entering the United States. PIA landed in Manchester, the UK without any reason just to meet the US government’s requirement, which added to expenditures of the airline.
PIA used Boeing 777 on the route, which gave the optimal performance on long routes. On every stop, one engine cycle was counted, for which the airplane needed maintenance check, besides other expenses including airport, navigation and ground-handling charges. So, the airline decided to shut the route, which was then followed by Kuwait and Bahrain routes due to different reasons.
In November 2018, PIA first started flights on Sialkot-Sharjah route, which was followed by Islamabad-Doha, Lahore-Muscat, Sialkot-Paris, Sialkot-Barcelona, Multan-Sharjah, Peshawar-Sharjah and Peshawar-Al Ain routes.
PIA has also decided to increase two flights every week on Faisalabad-Jeddah route, due to growing demand and now there will be four flights a week. Out of the eight routes, five are to and from Saudi Arabia, which means traffic from the country is growing.
“There was a cyclic moment which is settling down,” said Tajwar. “PIA’s seat factor in the Gulf region is over 85%, in Europe, its average seat booking is over 75%.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2019.
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