Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pakistan International Airlines Haj operations hit air pocket

KARACHI: The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Haj operations are going to be even more painful for the pilgrims this season as 10 aircraft out of the fleet of 39 have been grounded due to technical faults, sources said on Thursday.

The national and international flight schedules of the national flag carrier are severely affected as out of 39-plane fleet, only 29 are operating, resulting in daily cancellation of flights and long delays, causing huge financial losses to the airline.

The grounded aircraft include two Boeing-777 planes, two Boeing-737 planes, two ATR and four Airbus A-310, the sources said.

Since PIA’s total aircraft for Haj operations have been reduced to 29, this is going to be quite problematic for the pilgrims travelling through the national flag carrier, totaling 113,563.

The Airbus A-310 has a passenger capacity of around 195, Boeing-777 has a capacity of 215-350 passengers and Boeing-737 has a capacity of 118 passengers.

As these aircraft are no more available to operate, PIA would be having severe difficulties to re-arrange 305 Haj flights, they said.

As per the earlier schedule, PIA had to operate 46 Haj flights from Lahore and Islamabad each, 48 from Karachi, 24 from Multan, 66 from Peshawar, seven from Sialkot and 68 from Quetta to transport 113,563 pilgrims.

Spokesperson for PIA did not respond to comment on the situation.

The national flag carrier has been making huge losses for the last several years, allegedly due to mismanagement and induction of friends and cronies by previous and present governments.

According to aviation experts, the airline has accumulated losses of more than $2 billion and is only kept afloat by dole outs by the government.