FAISALABAD: The lost glory of national flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) could be revived through professional work and prudent policies, said Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) President Syed Zia Alumdar Hussain.
He stated this during a meeting with Air Commodore Jibran, Special Assistant to PIA Chief Executive Officer Air Marshal Arshad Mehmood Malik.
Hussain pointed out that just a few years ago, PIA was operating only a few flights between Faisalabad and Karachi despite a huge untapped potential for passenger and cargo traffic. However, later a number of foreign airlines started operations from Faisalabad and at present 60 to 70 flights land at the city’s airport.
“Fourteen days advance booking for Faisalabad-Dubai flights reflects the abundance of passengers on this commercially viable route and PIA should start direct flights from Faisalabad to Dubai,” he suggested.
He praised the PIA CEO for starting four direct flights between Faisalabad and Jeddah, saying that being the national flag carrier, it must capitalise on the opportunities.
“At present, 500,000 passengers travel from Faisalabad and we expect the number to jump to 800,000 in the next two to three years,” he voiced hope.
Discussing the cargo load in Faisalabad, the FCCI chief revealed that average 1,000 tons of cargo was required to be shipped from the city every day, but PIA was able to accommodate only 400 tons and exporters had to send their shipments through Lahore and Sialkot airports.
Most of these air shipments are for Manchester, London and Birmingham. Hence, he asked PIA to initially start flying wide-body passenger aircraft on such routes and in the later phase more passenger flights or a dedicated freight service could be launched.
He complained that during the mango and kinnow season, the space for dry cargo was reduced, though “we are regular customers of PIA”. He emphasised that PIA should evolve a viable strategy to avoid any delay in air shipment of dry cargo during the mango and kinnow season.
Welcoming the transfer of land by PIA to the Civil Aviation Authority for the construction of an independent air cargo complex, Hussain said the upgrading of primary runway and building of the air cargo complex must start simultaneously to avoid delay in using wide-body aircraft on the route.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2019.
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