ISLAMABAD: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has decided to add eight new narrow-body aircrafts to its fleet on lease, local media reported on Thursday, quoting the airline’s spokesperson.
The loss-making carrier has been looking to reduce costs, particularly since the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the fallout from a fake pilot credentials scandal.
According to Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, the airline had sought bids by January 11, 2021, to acquire eight new planes on dry lease, “which means the airline would only acquire the aircraft without flight crew.”
“Aircraft with seating capacity of 170-plus (all economy with soft divider after two rows) are expected to be delivered from January to December 2021,” Dawn reported. “The spokesman said new aircraft would replace some of the older planes in the fleet. He added it was part of the business plan PIA had been working on for the past two years which got pushed back due to reduced demand owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
According to the PIA website, the airline’s fleet currently comprises 37 aircraft: seven Boeing 777s, nine Airbus-320s and 21 ATRs. PIA’s Chief Executive Officer, Air Marshal Arshad Malik, has said 12 new aircraft will be added to the airline’s fleet by 2023.
In recent weeks PIA has announced a plan to lay off 3,000 employees through a voluntary retirement scheme to reduce its annual losses by Rs4.5 billion ($28.26 million) this year. Last month, the government approved funding of about $81 million in cash to support the scheme.
Earlier this year, the government said PIA had a total of 434 pilots. Some of their jobs have been terminated in an ongoing process of investigating their credentials.
The pilot scandal has tainted Pakistan’s aviation industry and stung PIA, which has been barred from flying to Europe and the United States after dozens of its pilots were named by the country’s own civil aviation regulator for holding allegedly “dubious” licenses.