PIA to lease seven new jets, expand fleet

Published: August 28, 2015
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PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOTO: REUTERS PHOTO: NNI
KARACHI: 

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plans to lease seven new jets by year-end, aiming to increase the size of its fleet to 42 aircraft; one of the largest ever, airline’s Chairman Nasser N A Jaffer said on Thursday.

Despite massive debt and accumulated losses that have wiped off its entire equity, the national flag carrier has already leased 14 jets and turbo props in recent years.

“Not everything is right but we are trying to improve the situation by bringing in changes,” he said at a media briefing.

“With these aircraft we will serve more passengers. This is the first time in PIA’s history that so many planes have been inducted in the fleet in such a short span of time.”

Right now the airline has 35 aircraft including 11 ATRs, nine Airbus 320s, nine Boeings 777s and six A310s. Out of these, 30 aircraft are operational while five await repair work.

The jets that will join the fleet over the next few months also include three Boeing 777s.

Read: PIA still a manageable entity, says former MD

Jaffer said PIA has approached the government, which is the majority shareholder, to restructure its balance sheet. “Fortunately, we have people on our board who have some suggestions on how to restructure the airline’s debt of Rs295 billion.”

About the continuous decline in PIA’s frequency and shrinking share in international passenger traffic, he hoped the problem will be addressed with the addition of new aircraft.

However, the chairman, who was flanked by Managing Director Shahnawaz Rehman and other senior officials, did not respond to a question about how the airline intends to counter growing penetration of Middle East-based airlines.

“The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has allowed these (foreign) airlines to operate more flights because it says we are not able to serve passengers. Obviously, if there is a demand for five flights from a city and we can manage only two, then someone would come in to meet the demand.”

Without discussing much the proposed privatisation of PIA, he said the government was supporting the management’s restructuring efforts as evident from the $52 million it gave to lease the aircraft.

The renewed effort to take PIA out of losses has coincided with a sharp decline in jet fuel price. “We are lucky on that count. And that is how we have been able to offer discounts to customers.”

Addressing criticism that surrounds the hiring of flight instructors on contract, Managing Director Rehman said it was a requirement as pilots needed training for the A320s.

“We don’t have line instructors for this type of aircraft and that is why we are hiring them from outside on a temporary basis.”

Read: PIA terminates five cabin crew members over smuggling attempt

Director Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Amir Ali said PIA was in talks with aircraft manufacturer Airbus and the Netherlands’s flag carrier KLM to upgrade its engineering facilities.

“We are also trying to attract Chinese investment in MRO (workshops) that are planned at Islamabad and Lahore airports.”

The government has been drip-feeding PIA by helping it arrange loans to pay salaries and vendors as the airline’s balance sheet, which carries a negative equity, does not interest lenders.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th,  2015.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • IKE
    Aug 28, 2015 - 9:42AM

    There is only one way to turn this Airline Around. Get rid of all of its employees from Chairman down to the last peon. Hire foreign workers and foreign management. This will be a very successful Airline. Recommend

  • shaikhmustafa
    Aug 28, 2015 - 10:13AM

    As regards the drip feeding part, Mr. Saad Hasan, its the government itself or rather the successive governments that have brought PIA to where it is right now.

    I find it very strange when the Govt. points fingers at PIA for being incompetent, or for that matter incase of most public sector companies. What they very conveniently forget is that its actually they themselves who first mess up a company’s commercial viability and then go around town bad mouthing them for being a burden on the national economy.

    So really its no favour that they are doing to PIA. They need the airline for their own personal needs more than anything else. They know the way they boss around PIA employees and management personnel, they dare not do it with any other airline’s personnel.

    Its like you beat up someone badly and then get that person treated in the hospital and then later tell everyone see i had to spend so much just to keep this person going.
    What a burden this person is.Recommend

  • shaikhmustafa
    Aug 28, 2015 - 10:18AM

    @IKE, refer my earlier post, i hope you will get your answer, its not the employees, these same employees when working for other airlines function perfectly well. Had the employees been bad they would have brought the likes of Emirates to the ground.

    It is the government’s unnecessary intervention in the day to day running of the airline which creates problems.

    As regards the constant whining of the government on PIA’s over staffing issue, guess who forces the airline to hire people it does not need? well no points for guessing that.Recommend

  • Sodomite
    Aug 28, 2015 - 10:38AM

    @IKE:
    In a sarcastic way you are are right. Recently Malaysian Airlines became bankrupt and they hired a German professional as its new CEO. Under a restructuring plan 4000 people are being laid off and flight operations being reduced and rationalized. PIA should get a foreign professional with powers to bring down employees to a manageable 5,000 level for a 42 aircraft company. Recommend

  • Rollin & Trollin
    Aug 28, 2015 - 10:53AM

    @IKE: Just like Emirates Airlines was once the ‘baby’ of PIA in those long lost days when the airline did indeed live up to the motto: “Great People to fly with !” it now needs an airline like Emirates to resuscitate it from its current shambolic situation.Recommend

  • Tiddi Pehalwan
    Aug 28, 2015 - 11:15AM

    Man more commission for the goth people

    “running” this airline which could have

    been flying if it was not overfilled

    with goth peopleRecommend

  • Rajesh
    Aug 30, 2015 - 9:09PM

    pia should learn from Indigo which place biggest order in aviation history their experienced management. If pia observe their working I assured there will be turnaround forPIARecommend

  • Sep 11, 2015 - 8:36PM

    During tenure of Ziaul haq, PIA was the best airline of the region. Subsequently democracy started in Pakistan and all organizations started fall due to unlimited induction of employees on political base which is still continued. Rating of employees per plain crossed over 1000. Look at their salaries and benefits more than a profitable airline.CS air own more than 450 aircrafts but have 65000 employees per plane rate is 145 employees. Further employees including Pilots reluctant to do work but draw salary and benefits without work.
    How can an airline exists.Recommend

  • saifuddin
    Sep 30, 2015 - 9:12PM

    PIA should restructure its administrative and operations structure, it is very obsolete Recommend

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