LAHORE: As many as six new private airlines have applied for regular public transport (RPT) licence to Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and are likely to start their flight operations during the first half of this year.
These airlines are Askari Air Pakistan, Army Welfare Trust (AWT), Liberty Air owned by Ch. Munir and Mian Amir, Go Green Airways, Elahi Group, Danish Elahi and Arshad Jalil, United Airways Pakistan Limited by Adnan Tabbani, Air Sial, combined owner, Sialkot Chamber of Commerce, and Afeef Zara Airways owned by Rashid Siddiqui.
They entrants would not meet pure domestic traffic requirements as in the recent years, pure domestic traffic, after grant of international traffic rights to Gulf countries carriers from Multan, Quetta, Sialkot and Faisalabad, has registered a declining trend. Furthermore, it will not have any positive impact from job-creation point or for that matter building up of infrastructure in the country as the owners of the airlines would get planes on dry lease and other services through outsourcing process. These airlines would contribute neither to the upgrade of the aviation industry nor to the creation of job opportunities for relevant skilled people.
The federal government should revise its aviation policy 2015 as heavy taxes have been levied on the airlines in the new policy, while the paid-up capital requirement has been increased from Rs 100 million to Rs 500 million. The import duties for parts and engineering facilities are not being ended or reduced to make things competitive with other countries to promote maintenance/overhaul facilities in the country.
PIA is the only airline operating as an industry having hangers flight kitchen; its own simulator is a source of creating job opportunities for skilled labour and other professionals; its viability has been compromised by unbridled grant of traffic rights to GCC carriers.
PIA has lost its business due to poor aviation policy and other factors as the national flag carrier’s share over the years in the international market has dropped from 49 percent to 20 to 23 percent.
In order to make aviation scenario conducive to Pakistani airlines , the aviation policy needs a major review to reduce the number of international gateways. All the major airports are under-utilized and uneconomical to attract foreign investors. The situation can become further worse when the new Islamabad airport will be operational and utilized to its full potential. The requirement at present is to promote hub-and-spoke concept, which will generate more international domestic traffic and result in better utilization of major airports at Islamabad and Lahore.