ISLAMABAD: The national flag carrier has not been able to ground three 'outdated' jumbo jets despite receiving recommendations by its engineering department to do so as it is faces an acute of shortage of aircraft, said Acting Chairman PIA Muhammad Ali Gardezi.
Briefing a parliamentary panel regarding the lease termination of outdated aircraft, Gardezi said out of the three jumbo jets, two are 25 years old while the third was partially damaged during the terrorist attack on Karachi airport. He added that the damaged aircraft was repaired and its now airworthy.
Responding to the concerns of parliamentarians, Gardezi said PIA would ultimately sell all these three aircraft and is interested in acquiring five ATRs for indigenous routes. Ideally, PIA should have a minimum fleet of 34 aircraft, but currently there are only 19 airworthy planes.
"The lease of old jumbos should be terminated and there is also need to renovate PIA’s engineering department," said Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Jaffar Iqbal. He said that over-staffing and unionism had ruined the performance of the national carrier.
Talking about the ongoing plan to revamp the national carrier, Gardezi said that the airline’s management plans to enhance its operational fleet to 35-36 aircraft by next year.
Talking to reporters at the Islamabad airport, PIA chief said that the airline would add one more plane in the first week of next month on a short-term wet lease — a term used for a leasing arrangement whereby one airline provides a lessee not only the aircraft but complete crew, maintenance, and insurance.
The PIA management expects to have seven to 10 more aircraft inducted in its fleet by December this year. “Our aim is the revival of PIA as desired by the Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif and under the guidance and supervision of Shujaat Azeem, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Aviation, the airline is moving in the right direction,” said Gardezi.
He said that with the induction of fuel efficient aircraft, the airline will be in a better position to offer services to its passengers, while at the same time it would benefit PIA in terms of fuel savings, which is a major cost factor for the airline. According to him, the main reason for PIA’s losses was cost of fuel as it was using fuel guzzlers on short routes. PIA’s losses are estimated at Rs100 million per day.
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