Sunday, May 07, 2017

Expiring aircraft leases end PIA's India-Pakistan flights

Pakistan International Airlines' (PIA) decision to suspend flights between Mumbai and Karachi from May 8 is not due to low passenger traffic caused by escalating border tensions.Instead, it could have to do with its lease on aircraft that will expire at the end of this month. The move has left several passengers booked on these flights in a lurch. They will now have to travel to Pakistan via Dubai.
PIA's country manager Muhammad Ahmed Barakzai told Mumbai Mirror that four of the airline's aircraft, which are on wet lease from a Turkish company, have to be returned. "We are suspending flights temporarily. Besides, passenger load on the Mumbai-Karachi sector is low, as visas are not very easy to get. But we will resume operations soon.'' PIA flew twice a week from Mumbai to Karachi. Its flight from Delhi to Karachi, too, will be suspended.
Khrusheed Fadra, who was scheduled to travel to Karachi later this month, told Mirror that he will now fly to Pakistan via Dubai. "This afternoon, I got a call from PIA. They did not know when the flights would resume. I have a return on June 8, and they have said that they will fly me back.'' PIA has seven employees in Mumbai and six in Delhi, and several employees - all of them are Indian apart from Barkazai - are afraid of losing their jobs. In 2002, the airline sacked several of its 17 employees, as the relationship between the two countries deteriorated. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an employee told Mumbai Mirror, "The passenger load on the May 11flight is about 45 passengers, and on May 15 we have 95 passengers.
06/05/17 Gargi Verma/Mumbai Mirror