It was just last month that Bhoja Air relaunched, after a decade-long hiatus.
The airline was one of the first private carriers to start commercial service when the then prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, opened the country’s airspace in 1993.
Bhoja Air started international flights five years later – but the airline never could make it big. It’s only international destination was Dubai, and it was forced to suspend operations by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in 1999-2000 after failing to pay flying dues.
After restarting operations last month, the airline was allowed to operate domestic flights only, until it satisfied the regulator that it was keeping up with flight standards and regulations. Bhoja Air was among three private airlines which were vying to grab a share of growing air traffic in 2012. The airline was issued a flying permit after it had assured the CAA that it would repay dues and meet the necessary standards.
The carrier owns two Boeing 737-200 aircraft, which it had bought on a dry lease from a South African company. Another B-737 400 is pending regulatory approval from the CAA.
Airline chairman Farooq Omar Bhoja refused to comment on the accident. “We have issued the statement. What else do you want to ask me?”
Several local private airlines have gone bankrupt over the years, unable to compete with Middle East-based carriers.
Bhoja Air recently appointed Arshad Jalil as its managing director. Jalil was previously the CEO of Shaheen Air and owns an aircraft maintenance company.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2012.