The state of the national carrier only seems to be depleting with each passing year. If massive losses it had incurred coupled with the national embarrassment in Kuala Lumpur earlier this year wasn’t enough, the Pakistan International Airline (PIA) has gotten a warning from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to pay its dues or it will collect them directly from international and domestic passengers itself. In fact, the loss-making national flag carrier also has till November to pay all its pending payments or it would be barred from using a number of facilities, such as, aircraft power supply, passenger bridges and pre-conditioning facilities. This punitive measure by the CAA comes at a time when the travel industry across the world is facing a decline owing to the coronavirus pandemic. The passengers are already faced with limited options for travel and inflated fares. On top of this, if they have to pay the extra charges owing to the PIA’s management’s incompetence, it would not only deter them from choosing the airline but they would also loose complete confidence in the company.
It is pertinent to note that according to media reports, the PIA owed Rs127.7bn to the aviation authority. Let us also not forget that the government had announced another bailout package for the national carrier just past week. But the PIA official claims that the government had frozen its account until the company reforms and balance sheet restructuring were implemented. How the company has planned to do that is anybody’s guess despite the fact that the government had approved the reforms in principle. These are important questions and the government must seek answers from the officials of the national carrier. The airline that was once a pioneer in the air industry is facing a massive downturn. But no one in its top leadership let alone the government seems worried to prompt into action to save it. In fact, the CAA is also running into massive losses. It is then unfortunate that the aviation sector in Pakistan is paid less heed to despite the fact that the premier has time and again claimed that its government’s focus is propelling the tourism in the country. The authorities are advised on future-proofing the aviation sector, starting with solving the payment issues between the CAA and PIA at its earliest.