By ITRAT BASHIR
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is planning to increase its flights between Pakistan and London in the near future after acquiring aircrafts from an international airline on lease.
In a press conference held in London, the newly appointed PIA CEO, Bernd Hildenbrand, disclosed that they are in a discussion with an international airline to acquire three state-of-the-art aircrafts and he is hopeful of concluding the deal very soon.
“The latest planes will become part of the PIA fleet very soon that will operate between London and Pakistan. The UK is our prime market and there is a huge demand in London. At present, PIA operates 10 flights a week from London and we want to increase that number.”
To a question, he said they are interested in flying to Leeds, but a 777 cannot land at this airport and hence they cannot operate to this destination.
The German origin CEO also showed intention of refurbishing the existing PIA’s 777 fleet and added that the work on it is in progress; by the end of next year the changes to the airline will be visible. “We also intend to add more aircrafts in the domestic market to fill the missing links,” he added.
According to him, the airline’s goal is to grow in the coming years and this is only possible by expanding the PIA’s fleet. At present they have 38 aircrafts and by 2025 they want to increase that number to about 100. The demand is there, but they need to equip themselves to tap that demand.
To another question, Hildenbrand said that the PIA has started earning profit; it earned operational profit in March and April this year, which is a very good sign for the national carrier. He ruled out the PIA’s privatization for the time being but nothing could be said about it in future.
He announced that the PIA will introduce premier service for which new staff will be hired. He pledged to revamp the airline by improving its existing fleet, time performance and cabin services, and adding more aircrafts to it. The work on this is already in progress.
“One of the biggest tasks is to bring PIA at par with other modern international airlines. This can be done, but it will take time; 2016 is a transitional year for us and 2017 will be positive for the Pakistani national airline,” he added.