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PIA: V1 on Social Media but is that the reality?

The social media accounts of PIA have portrayed an image of an airline suffering from biased reporting resulting in defamation and lack of profitability of the airline. But is that the case?

Earlier this month, the national flag carrier of Pakistan, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), released a video on their Facebook page of their CEO Dr. Musharraf Rasool Cyan giving an passionate speech about how things have taken the turn for the better for the financially stricken airline and how PIA has been the target of biased reporting against them which has led to further defamation. The social media accounts of PIA have portrayed an image of an airline suffering from biased reporting resulting in defamation and lack of profitability of the airline. But is that the case?

The video in question can be viewed at the link down below:

https://www.facebook.com/PakistanIntAirlines/videos/1942685869093762/

The CEO’s main focus is reducing losses, thereby putting a positive pressure on profitability and although his efforts have led to a change in fortunes in financial terms, the approach that the airline is taking is erroneous. The CEO believes axing routes that cause losses, a recent example of which is New York’s JFK airport, can increase profitability. The termination of this route was justified because of constant losses, even if a flight left absolutely full. The stop in Manchester was the major cause of this and there are new reports of more routes being axed altogether or reduced in frequency. According to sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the routes being closed down are reported to be Salalah (in Oman) and Kuwait. According to the same sources, unconfirmed reports are also suggesting that Doha may be on the list as well.

PIA is also looking to reduce frequency to a few destinations. PIA’s flights to Dubai from Karachi are being reduced from 1x daily flight to 3x weekly flights. Reduction/termination of flights to Muscat are also being contemplated upon. Flights to newly inducted and recommenced destinations such as Najaf and Bangkok are proposed to be reduced to 1x weekly and 2x weekly respectively.

At a time when airlines of these respective countries are increasing flights to Pakistani cities, PIA is closing down routes to axe losses. These problems arise only because of the lackluster product of the airline that has failed to capture the market for European, USA and Far Eastern destinations because airlines from these countries mostly operate on the hub-and-spoke business model, offering convenient connections to destinations where PIA closed their services to as a result. PIA should instead be looking to improve their overall product instead of merely changing seat covers and carpets. PIA needs a complete overhaul of seats on the 777s as well as a new IFE system if it wants to attract customers. New aircraft inductions are also dearly needed for the airline. Ever since the A310s have retired, there has been no replacement for an aircraft of that capacity. At this point, the A330-200 fits the role as an A310 replacement perfectly and could solve the problem of sending half empty 777s to destinations where the A310 was once deployed.

To make matters worse, 4 A320’s leased from Vietnamese low cost carrier Vietjet are also reaching the end of their wet lease term with PIA and will be returning to Vietjet, with no replacement aircraft taking their place, thereby reducing fleet size and capacity and the airline’s solution to that problem is by reducing frequencies and axing destinations, citing losses. There is even news that of the four Vietjet A320s, three might be joining AirBlue at the end of their lease period with PIA.

The future is looking very bleak for the airline. They believe they are achieving “unimaginable heights” by their recent actions but in fact, it has been the very opposite. Considering the approach the airline has taken, it seems that the airline might turn into a regional or domestic airline very soon with the odd route to Saudi Arabia. Gone are the days when airlines used to fly twice or thrice a week to a destination. It is now all about frequencies and how many times a day/week the airline flies to that destination, giving its customers options and flexibility but PIA appears to be stuck in the past. We can only hope that things turn out for the better.

Editor’s note: This article was received anonymously by Flytewise and, considering the debates surrounding PIA and its future, we have decided to publish it. We would welcome a conversation with PIA about their policies and would be delighted to present their point of view as well. Our editorial team can be reached through our Facebook page.

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