Shaheen, Airblue batter PIA on international, local fronts

Data from CAA reveals smaller airlines carry more travellers abroad than PIA.

Saad Hasan October 05, 2013
While PIA has 38 aircraft, the number of functional planes is not more than 26 and many of them are old, with a high operational cost. PHOTO: FILE


Shaheen Air International (SAI) has emerged as the fastest growing local airline serving international routes from the country and threatens to take more market share from the crisis-hit Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

For the first time since starting operations in 1993, Shaheen crossed the million-customer-mark in fiscal 2012-13 as it carried 1.061 million passengers between Pakistani cities and foreign destinations, according to Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data.

The airline has seen phenomenal growth in its share. Compared to 2011-12, Shaheen transported 43.8% more international travellers against a marginal increase of 3% in the overall number of passengers travelling abroad. In 2007-08, Shaheen carried just 280,615 passengers on international routes.

Altogether, the international traffic from Pakistan was 9.5 million in 2012-13 against 9.2 million a year before.

“Shaheen saw the growth opportunity at the right time. PIA is gradually losing its foothold and it was about time someone started to see that,” said an aviation industry official.

It is obvious that Shaheen has taken a significant chunk out of the share of PIA, which witnessed a 9.6% decline in its international passengers. From 3.68 million passengers in 2011-12, the national flag carrier’s traffic dropped to 3.3 million last fiscal year.

PIA remained the largest airline in terms of passenger traffic on international routes, followed by Emirates, which carried 1.45 million passengers in the fiscal year 2012-13.

Few people outside the aviation industry seem to have noticed the growth in Shaheen Air’s business. This was also because of the fact that airlines around the world had been losing money as fuel prices remain high and competition intensifies.

Between February 2012 and September 2013, Shaheen replaced and inducted newer fuel-efficient aircraft expanding its fleet to 18 planes – far more than eight planes which other private airline Airblue operates.

While PIA has 38 aircraft, the number of functional planes is not more than 26 and many of them are old, with a high operational cost.

The inclusion of five Airbus 320s has also given an edge to Shaheen Air. PIA has been trying to induct these narrow-body planes for years now as they are best suited for short-haul flights to the Middle East.

The total number of both domestic and international passengers rose to 16.35 million from 15.79 million in the previous year.

Domestic market

Within Pakistan, it is Air lue which is pushing PIA out with its eight planes. Out of the 6.68 million domestic travellers, PIA flew 4.8 million, Airblue 1.2 million and Shaheen 672,556.

But Airblue saw its passenger traffic increase 61% over 2011-12, again an outcome of the poor condition of PIA, which is losing its market share.

The newest carrier, Air Indus, which started domestic flight earlier this year, is further going to hit PIA’s market share, industry sources say.

Following Air Indus, at least one other airline is looking to start operations in the coming months as investors try to grab a piece of the domestic aviation airspace.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2013.

Like Business on Facebook, follow @TribuneBiz on Twitter to stay informed and join in the conversation.


sohaib | 8 years ago | Reply

Its very simple to compare' new judgement of high court of Peshawar regarding incident of air blue we are those peoples who forget every thing after one year an what media feed us we believe on this.pilot was responsible of incident because in private airline there are pressure on pilots he must land to save a millions to avoid understand pia you have to inside pia because you cannot point out or discuss the depth of sea while you stand at beach.pia is like sea.having billions dollors of prime assets. Only one hotel in new York price 5 billion dollar mean more then 500 billion pk rs.only need to reevaluation of assets.this is the price of one hotel.pia have prime routs all over the world.pia need only he honest and dedicated leadership that we did not except from N govt.because IMF.tnx

bilawal | 8 years ago | Reply

This is very good that Shaheen Air is Increasing there fleet with Airbus A320 and Boeing 747-400. But people dont know that shaheen air planes are also used not new. If Comparing Shaheen Air with PIA, let me inform you and everyone have this in their knowledge that PIA is operating Boeing 777-200LR, 777-240LR and 777-340ER which came in Year 2004 and Alhumdulillah these planes have no complains and flying continues flight till canada and US. PIA was the first airline who operates the 777 faimly snd have the record of longest flight inbthe history of aviation. However PIA is in lose due to Corrupted people and uneducated employees and planes stop for celebraties like Shaista Lodhi for vip protocol. In this all sitution of course PIA will lose its all image which is somehow little bit saved....

Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ


Most Read