LAHORE: Khawaja Saad Rafique, Federal Minister for Aviation and Railway has announced that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) had earned Rs 2.14 billion through its collaboration with Turkish Airlines.
“That is correct. The partnership has been very good. We have regularly been able to fully load our flights,” says Abdullah Hafeez Khan, PIA’s Spokesperson.
The partnership between PIA and Turkish Airlines is a codesharing arrangement that allows PIA to access twenty-eight destinations through its counterpart’s hub in Istanbul. These twenty-eight destinations are exclusively across the USA, the UK, and Europe. The mechanism is currently a means for PIA to maintain routes it had been quardened off from after the fake degree scandal.
“We sell the customers a PIA ticket, we transport them to Istanbul, and within three hours we have them aboard a Turkish Airlines flight towards their destination of choice. That is the partnership between the two companies,” says Khan.
This arrangement in the world of aviation is a marketing arrangement in which an airline places its designator code on a flight operated by another airline, and sells tickets for that flight. Airlines throughout the world form code-share arrangements to strengthen or expand their market presence and competitive ability.
The arrangement was announced on October 28 with the two countries celebrating 75 years of international relations with first flight commencing on November 15, 2022.
The arrangement came at the backdrop of PIA still suffering from the ramifications of its licence issue dating back to the crash of Flight 8303 on 22 May 2020 after which, then Federal Minister for Aviation, Ghulam Sarwar Khan alleged that 150 pilots had fake licences. This, subsequently, led to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) implementing a ban on the carrier, with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US following suit with a similar restriction. These routes accounted for 30-37% of PIA’s revenue according to Khan.
“We operate six weekly flights from Islamabad and Lahore currently” says Khan. No further information has been given as to when this arrangement will be extended to outbound flights from Karachi, however, the extension is in the pipeline. PIA can currently accommodate 3,948 passengers across its six round trip flights, served through its Boeing 777’s that it utilises for the routes.
“Honestly it’s not the same, in terms of a product. It’s not the same as direct connectivity, but it’s still better than whatever is available in the market,” said Khan when asked whether this new mechanism was a satisfactory replacement to the direct flights that PIA offered previously.
“Direct flights are obviously better. However, we try to mitigate the back and forth on these flights. In terms of connectivity. It’s still the fastest. Istanbul is on the main route to Europe. You would have through it more or less in some capacity. We have also tried to utilise terminals where we could minimise the walk times. We opted for this instead of directing our passengers to hubs in the Gulf which would have elongated the flight’s duration by an additional three to four hours and where they would have to walk a one to one and a half kilometre,” Khan continues.
There is no information as to when this agreement will lapse. “It’s a sustainable solution for the time being. If the restrictions on us (PIA) are rescinded then we can obviously review the agreement,” says Khan.