The flight operations of the national Airline of Pakistan, Pakistan International Airline (PIA), were severely affected as fuel supply to the company has been disrupted due to non-payment of dues. The Airline was forced to cancel several flights from Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Quetta, Bahawalpur, Multan, Gwadar, and many other cities.
According to sources, PIA’s management has been actively addressing the matter and is expecting the fuel supply to be restored as soon as credit lines become available. A PIA spokesperson informed that the affected passengers were provided alternative flights.
PIA’s troubles began after the Federal Bureau of Revenue froze the company’s bank accounts in July, which resulted in the Airline being unable to settle its debts with PSO. The situation was further exacerbated by the recent increase in aviation security charges, which saw PIA’s domestic airfares almost double quickly.
In addition to these issues, PIA’s fleet of aircraft is rapidly aging. With only a few new planes added to the fleet in the past five years, the company now operates nearly half as many flights as it did back in 2005, flying over 390 daily domestic and international services. At the same time, foreign airlines have expanded their market share to take more than a third of PIA’s traffic.
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The financial problems at the national carrier have prompted calls for it to be privatized, but the government has so far refused. PIA’s liabilities currently outweigh its assets, reflecting years of mismanagement and a fragile economy. The company has also been plagued by strikes, hijackings, and accidents that have hampered its reputation.
However, despite these setbacks, the PIA’s management remains hopeful that they can overcome the current difficulties and restore normal operations quickly. The Airline has already paid PKR 220 million to the state-owned fuel supplier and hopes that it will be able to resume its operations as soon as the credit lines are restored.
The PIA’s current debt is estimated to be in the hundreds of billions, with its liabilities outweighing its assets. The company has several creditors, including the Federal Inland Revenue Authority, the Pakistan Investment Development Authority, and the Ministry of Finance. Moreover, local airports and cargo handling companies also owe the company money. Several international and local analysts believe the Airline’s current financial woes will likely lead to its bankruptcy. As a result, they think that the government should consider giving the company to private investors to minimize its losses and prevent the national Airline from crashing. If the Airline does not revert to profit-making soon, it will face further financial problems, and its reputation will continue to suffer. In the meantime, it has been unable to compete with Gulf carriers that have invested heavily in their operations in Pakistan.