Business & Economy

Fuel shortage forces Pakistan’s loss-making national airline to suspend flights

Islamabad, Oct 23 (EFE) – Pakistan’s national flag carrier suspended 19 flights on Monday due to a fuel shortage, amid a deteriorating economic crisis that has prompted the government to consider selling the loss-making airline.

The fuel shortage crisis began two weeks ago, and on Sunday, the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) also had to suspend flights.

“Yesterday, 77 flights including both domestic and international were cancelled due to the ongoing crisis of fuel shortage,” PIA spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez told EFE.

Hafeez said no company was willing to provide fuel to the airline without advance payment. “That is why the flight operation (has been) disturbed.”

He said that the situation had somewhat improved on Monday as fewer flights were canceled.

The national airline consistently reports annual losses due to higher expenses compared to revenue.

PIA officials anticipate that the airline’s total losses will exceed 800 billion Pakistani rupees ($2.9 billion) by year-end.

PIA’s CEO, Air Vice Marshal Amir Hayat, warned in August that the national carrier was expected to incur a loss of 112 billion Pakistani rupees this year, a significant increase from the 80 billion rupees loss in 2022.

He cautioned that without restructuring, the airline’s annual loss could reach 259 billion rupees by 2030.

In September, the airline grounded 14 out of its fleet of 31 aircraft due to severe financial constraints.

The government of then-Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced plans to privatize the loss-making national airline in August.

Successive governments have provided bailout packages worth billions of rupees from their budgets to keep PIA afloat.

In September, the caretaker government, led by Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, rejected PIA’s urgent appeal for a 23 billion rupee package.

Instead, the government directed the airline to secure loans from commercial banks and develop a privatization strategy. EFE


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