Court grants Air Indus new lease of life

CAA had grounded the airline a day earlier citing safety and security concerns


Saad Hasan July 01, 2015
PHOTO: AIR INDUS WEBSITE

KARACHI: Troubled private carrier Air Indus received a new lease of life on Wednesday after it convinced the Sindh High Court (SHC) to put aside Civil Aviation Authority's (CAA) notice suspending its operation.

The CAA had abruptly grounded the airline on Monday, citing safety and security concerns, but did not share details of any specific incidents that may have put passengers at risk.

"Court wouldn't have given us relief if there were issues with safety of passengers," said Javed Akhter, a senior official of the airline. "We will continue to operate our flights as usual."

According to Akhter, the main point of contention between Air Indus and the CAA has been last year's terrorist attack on Karachi airport in which its aircrafts were damaged.

"We had a fleet of three aircrafts and two of them were damaged. That was major blow for us as it completely threw our economies off the track. And nobody compensated us," he said.

Read: Not flying high: CAA grounds Air Indus over safety concerns

Leased aircrafts are always insured but the company that owned the planes faced delays in getting them repaired. The airline is still waiting to induct back one of Boeing 737-300, which is being repaired in Dubai.

Air Indus says it has cleared all the dues of the regulator, including parking fees despite booking losses due to shortage of aircraft.

The airline, which is backed by Karakoram Motors, is operating with two Boeing 737-300 aircrafts at the moment.

On the contrary, CAA officials maintain that no leniency will be accorded to any airline considering the crashes which have marred the industry in recent years.

"The decision to suspend its operation was taken after thorough investigation and analysis. They are putting life of passengers at risk by cutting corners," a CAA official said.

Air Indus is also leasing three Airbus 320s, and said paperwork had been submitted to the CAA for verification.

This is not the first time that the CAA has shut down an airline on grounds of safety issues. But in all previous cases, the real cause for the drastic step was financial unviability of the carrier and reluctance of sponsors to pump in more money.

Pakistan’s aviation industry has seen many prospectors trying their luck with airline business. Most of the airlines have gone bankrupt, often to the embarrassment of highflying investors.

In recent years, Rayyan Air, Vision Air and Fly Pakistan Air also applied for commercial air transport license besides Air Indus, but none of them have taken off yet.

Read: Air Indus aiming to fly into international skies

Pakistan adopted an ‘open skies’ policy in the 1990s, allowing competition on the domestic routes and giving broader access to foreign airlines.

More than 20 licences were issued to airliners but none except for Shaheen Air International has survived. Bhoja Air resurfaced under a new management a few years back but it has also been permanently grounded after a devastating air crash.

Despite a discouraging history, people in the industry say the sheer size of the country’s population is enough of a reason for investors to jump into the capital-intensive airline business.

This assertion seems to be reflecting in numbers as well. According to CAA, Air Indus carried 301,070 passengers or 8.6% of domestic passengers in the year which ended June 2014 – that was done by a new airline within a few months.

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COMMENTS (17)

MR.WALI MUHAMMAD BALOCH. | 5 years ago | Reply | Recommend I LIKE AIR INDUS TO BE ON TOP OF AIR LINES OF ASIA.
dr fazal subhan khan | 5 years ago | Reply | Recommend I am an Aviation professional myself living in the Uk Recently I had a chance to travel by Indus air from Islamabad to Quetta and karachi where I closely observed the service of Air indus ground and cabin staff.I was really impressed by the service of ground staff particularly the service provided during the flight. It would have not been fair to fill a comment card admiring them but I did not have full information about the technical or mechanical condition of the aircraft but the operational service was excellent .I suggested to Air indus to launch long haul flights and I also suggest that Air indus should obtain an independent aircraft serviceability report from a foreign experts and air safety board.Obviously PIA is going down the drain day by day and there are some elements who want to undermine the services of the Air indus and Shaheen Air so the unlawful practices are continued in PIA.How they can point a finger at shaheen Air when it is operated by Pakistan Air Force specialist staff I am afraid CAA now may start complaining about about Pakistan Air Force operation. I think CAA should focus on PIA which is full of corrupt incompetent unprofessional ground and cabin staff who are doing nothing but stealing from the cabin stealing from the passengers stealing from the hotels where ever they stay and are involved in high level smuggling of contraband and drugs and some how in prostitution.The aircrafts are from the old century and most of those are unserviceable rusty shabby and dirty ,Every flight cabin and cockpit is always occupied by the Aunties and grannies and pot bellies crew in uniform and the passenger safety is always put on the risk .The time has come now to clean the PIA to put it on the right track and corrupt matriculate politicians must be stopped from interfering in its operation and in its recruitment process.I have worked and travelled on numerous air carriers on global level but have never seen such a bad airline like PIA and its staff.I have closely observed and monitored PIA cabin and cockpit staff and have conducted five years research on the crew and my finding and conclusion is very worrying about this national Air carrier which is seriously in need of complete cleaning up and lot of improvement and progress in needed,
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