After a green signal from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is all set to resume flight operations to the United Kingdom (UK) from February.
According to the details, the national flag carrier of Pakistan was restricted from flying to European Union (EU) states, the United States (US) and the UK last year in July after European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) suspended PIA’s air operations permit for EU countries.
However, after a nod from ICAO, bookings for London-bound flights from Karachi and Lahore will open from February 10, 2022, while flights from Islamabad will start February 12, 2022.
The airline is charging in the range of 72,000 – 82,000 PKR.
According to Fahad Masood, “Airlines are trying to make up for lost money – the PIA having extra routes may not translate into lower fares. For about another six months, ticket prices will remain towards the higher side.”
“It will take time to have a trickle-down effect but, yes, options for travellers will certainly open up and dependency on hub travel will be reduced,” said Masood, an aviation analyst.
The ban came in the aftermath of the Aviation Minister’s speech in the Parliament regarding results of an investigations which revealed that more than 260 out of 860 pilot licenses issued by the Pakistani authorities are fraudulent.
The resumption of flights to key international markets might just be the boost PIA needs to get back on track after a dismal few quarters. It is to be noted that the national carrier reported a loss of 42.3 billion PKR in the third quarter of 2021.
PIA will have to face challenging circumstances as the UK-Pakistan route is not particularly lucrative, due to which the airlines are bound to operate at a very low cost.
According to Linus Benjamin Bauer, Managing Director at Bauer Aviation Advisory: “Since this market is heavily driven by VFR demand, fares are not particularly high. VFR markets are renowned for lower yields, reflecting a high proportion of passengers flying mostly economy.”
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