Four foreign airlines have refused to give aircraft to the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on ‘wet lease’ because of security reasons. The airlines of Eastern Europe and Central Asia had shown interest in providing four aircraft to the PIA when it floated a tender in early June. But after the attack on Karachi airport and firing at a PIA plane in Peshawar, they have withdrawn the offer.
Under the wet lease agreement, an airline provides aircraft, pilots and cabin crew and maintenance and insurance, while under the dry lease the airline provides only aircraft. A source in the PIA told Dawn that the foreign airlines had offered to provide 180-seater A320 and 737 aircraft to PIA, but now they expressed their inability to do so citing security issues. He said the national flag-carrier was also facing problems in acquiring planes on dry lease. PIA is facing the brunt of terror attacks on two airports and it seems that more difficult time is ahead. The government will have to extend its full support to PIA to deal with the situation,” a senior PIA official said.
PIA’s spokesperson Mashhood Tajwar admitted that PIA was facing problems in acquiring planes on wet lease following the attack on a flight in Peshawar. “We are negotiating with some foreign airlines and are optimistic of acquiring aircraft on wet lease,” he said, adding that PIA would get two planes on dry lease by September which would help stabilise its operation. “We are in the process of floating a tender for acquiring 10 planes on dry lease this week,” he said. Four foreign airlines suspended their flights to and from Peshawar and one to and from Karachi after the attacks.
PIA’s flight operation was hampered a month ago after the return of four aircraft it had acquired on wet lease in December last year from Turkish and Czech Republic airlines. After the expiry of the lease agreement with these airlines, PIA has reduced the number of its foreign and domestic flights to 26. With total 25 planes in its fleet, PIA has reduced seven flights on Dubai route, one each on Manchester, Barcelona, New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, Dhaka, Abu-Dhabi and Kuwait and remaining on domestic routes.