Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has decided to replace ageing aircraft with new ones in a bid to revamp the ailing state-owned entity.
In a live session on Tuesday, PIA CEO Arshad Malik said that owing to the instructions issued by the government of Pakistan, a business plan was being formulated by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which would be completed in three months.
“PIA will induct narrow-body aircraft into its fleet and it is in the process of returning 72 ATR planes, which had been acquired many years ago on expensive lease,” he said.
Answering a query about in-flight entertainment, he announced that PIA would gradually replace its aircraft with newer versions equipped with up-to-date entertainment systems.
During the session, the participants inquired about the airline’s plans to operate on new routes and resumption of commercial flights to Saudi Arabia, UAE, UK and Canada.
He replied that flights on the Gulf and Saudi Arabian routes were temporarily suspended due to the Covid-19 restrictions imposed on airlines by these countries.
With regard to UK operations, he said that the British government still followed EU rules, which had been applied before Brexit deal was inked.
He pointed out that the airline was holding regular meetings with UK authorities to review the suspension of flights to the European nation.
PIA has secured safety certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is valid till 2023, however, the restrictions are based on the audit of airline’s regulator – the Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan – and not PIA, he said.
PIA was undergoing human resource restructuring and rationalisation due to which promotions in all departments were being done purely on merit now, he said.
“There will be no new recruitments in PIA as per Supreme Court’s orders,” he said. “The Voluntary Separation Scheme was announced with complete package and understanding of the beneficiary, who submitted affidavits to forego retirement benefits in lieu of the package.”
Malik highlighted that the management of the air carrier was focusing on enhancing training standards and facilities at the PIA Training Centre.
At present, the flying academy remains closed because PIA lacks funds to support the academy.
PIA was the only Pakistani airline which operated on socio-economic routes that were not covered by other domestic airlines, he said.
“PIA is still operating flights to domestic destinations for the national cause despite the fact that they are commercially unviable,” he said. “The airline is working to provide easy access and connections from such cities to the rest of Pakistan and the world.”