PIA flight operations returning to ‘normal’
The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flights began returning to normal on Saturday as their engines roared to life following delays and suspensions caused by a shortage of funds and failure to pay Pakistan State Oil (PSO) for fuel supply.
Inside sources said that PIA operations are gradually returning to normal after receiving financial assistance. A total of 72 flights are scheduled to depart from airports across the country on Sunday (today), with 18 being domestic flights and 54 international flights.
The national airline, already facing a cash crunch and mounting losses, faced losses of over Rs420 million per day due to aircraft grounding.
According to a PIA spokesman, the on-time departure ratio for the airline was expected to reach 72% by Saturday.
Earlier, five flights had to be cancelled due to a lack of available aircraft. Among them were Flight PK-369 from Karachi to Islamabad, Flight PK-304 from Karachi to Faisalabad, Flight PK-303 from Lahore to Karachi, and Flight PK-306 from Karachi to Lahore.
Additionally, Flight PK-536 from Sukkur to Karachi was also cancelled. Passengers on Flight PK-301 from Islamabad to Karachi experienced a delay of over one and a half hours, while the incoming Flight PK-311 from Quetta to Karachi was also delayed.
Finance ministry seeks PIA’s privatisation plan
In the midst of a financial crisis, the Ministry of Finance has refused to shoulder the mounting debt interest and losses of the PIA, while the interim Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar has called for a privatisation plan from both the Privatisation Division and the airline’s administration, sources said.
They revealed that the national flag carrier was incurring a staggering monthly loss of Rs12 billion. Struggling to stay afloat, PIA has on many occasions resorted to taking loans of Rs260 billion from commercial banks, guaranteed by the government.
In addition to this, it has been revealed that the airline owes Rs1.25 billion in taxes to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), while only paying slightly over Rs1 billion per month to the civil aviation authority.
With monthly expenses reaching Rs34 billion, PIA's monthly income stands at Rs22 billion, leaving the airline with an unsustainable deficit.
The overall deficit of PIA currently amounts to a whopping Rs740 billion, a staggering figure that has prompted the interim finance minister to demand a prompt privatisation plan from both the Privatisation Division and the PIA administration.
Sources stated that the proposed plan aims to swiftly implement the privatisation of the state-owned entity, particularly due to the fact that the airline's debt size is five times greater than the value of its assets.