Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took up the cause of restoring the national flag carrier’s ‘lost glory’ on Sunday, saying his government wanted Pakistan International Airlines to be counted among the world’s leading airlines.
His remarks came during Sunday’s inspection and induction of a new A-320 fleet into the national airline. This is the first fleet of new aircraft for the airline in almost a decade.
“It is pleasing to see the new aircraft being inducted into the PIA fleet and with the present initiatives, PIA shall soon be revived to its past glory,” the prime minister said.
PIA plans to induct 28 aircraft into its fleet in the current fiscal year, including 20 A320s and B737 NextGens, four B777s and four ATR72-500 aircraft. The ATRs will be utilised on domestic routes.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Aviation Shujaat Azeem, the airline’s managing director Muhammad Junaid Yunus and flight operations director Captain Qasim Hayat accompanied the premier during the visit. Azeem briefed the PM on the induction of 14 aircraft into PIA’s fleet including narrow body, wide body and turboprop aircraft. PIA has placed an order for three A-320 aircraft from GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) of which one aircraft has been received while the remaining two will be delivered in July and September. The remaining aircraft will be inducted in the near future. The Airbus A-320 has a capacity of 180 seats.
While visiting the aircraft, the PM said he “would like to see more Pakistanis travelling with the national flag carrier, which should be the preferred choice of passengers”. He added that all out support would be given to PIA to make it a leading airline.
Azeem said that among other reasons, PIA suffered losses due to the use of incorrect aircraft for short distance routes and the consumption of fuel by an aged fleet.The use of smaller and narrow body planes on domestic and medium range international routes as opposed to Boeing 777s will help the airline, he added. The 777s will now be used for longer intercontinental routes.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2014.