The losses suffered by the national flag carrier since the controversy of fake pilot degrees erupted has run into billions of rupees amid fears that the downward trend will continue into the next year as well.
The controversy, which continues to haunt the state entity, was set in motion after an inquiry into a PIA crash that killed 97 people in Karachi resulted in the stunning revelation that 260 of 860 pilots in Pakistan had cheated on their pilots exams but were still given licences by the Civil Aviation Authority.
Later, in July 2020, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) suspended the third country operator authorisation of the national flag carrier, PIA, to operate flights in the EU member states for six months due to safety concerns against the backdrop of the plane crash and the subsequent damning statement of the aviation minister that 40 per cent of Pakistani pilots possessed dubious licences.
PIA has suffered a loss of Rs100 billion during the past two-and-a-half years. According to the state airline sources, by the end of this year, the loss might soar to Rs150 billion.
They said that in the past two and a half years, the state airline’s flights to Britain and Europe were minimal. Only 73 flights were operated against the annual average of 1,080 flights to Britain. In the past two and a half years, a total of 150 flights were operated against the usual figure of 2,000 flights.
The ban limited flights to France, Barcelona, Copenhagen and Milan, as only 24 flights out of the annual average of 192 flights were operated.
Sources said that due to the ban PIA lost Rs85 billion on the UK route while it lost Rs16 billion on the route of European countries.
They further said that an online audit of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and PIA is expected by the European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) in October this year, following which experts will come to Pakistan for a physical audit.
However, they added, it is unlikely that the ban will end this year, due to which the total loss is expected to increase to Rs150 billion.
Meanwhile, PIA has announced a relief package for passengers going to China.
The decision was taken in view of the difficulties faced by passengers due to the fluctuation in the value of the dollar.
Passengers will now be able to avail 10 percent discount through the national airline while students will be able to get a 22 percent discount by getting their tickets from the PIA’s offices.
Apart from this, students will also be given a 40 percent discount on luggage, and the limit has been increased from 40kg to 80kg. This discount ranges between Rs50,000 to Rs100,000.
The fare of the state airline to the city of Xi’an in China is Rs519,000 while the one-way fare to Chengdu is fixed at Rs508,000.