Pakistan International Airlines to lease eight new planes

A Pakistan International Airline (PIA) plane taxis on the runway on the way to Saudi Arabia during the PIA employees strike in Islamabad on February 8, 2016. (AFP)
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Updated 03 December 2020

Pakistan International Airlines to lease eight new planes

  • Airline has sought bids by January 2021 to acquire eight new planes expected to be delivered between January and December
  • PIA CEO Air Marshal Arshad Malik has said 12 new aircraft will be added to the airline’s fleet by 2023

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.

Pakistan arrests 'most wanted' militant linked to Iran-backed Zainabiyoun Brigade

Updated 28 January 2021

Pakistan arrests 'most wanted' militant linked to Iran-backed Zainabiyoun Brigade

  • Counterterrorism police chief says Abbas Jafri received military training in neighboring Iran
  • Last December, police arrested two members of the same militant outfit from Karachi’s Korangi area

KARACHI: Pakistan has arrested a ‘most wanted’ militant it says is linked to the Zainabiyoun Brigade, with investigators saying on Thursday he had received military training in neighboring Iran.
The Zainabiyoun Brigade was placed on the US Treasury’s financial blacklist in January 2019 and is believed to have sent young members of the Pakistani Shiite community to fight in Syria. 
“The arrested terrorist, Abbas Jafri, is a close aide of another most-wanted terrorist, Yawar Abbas, and, much like other members of the Zainabiyoun Brigade, got his military training in neighboring Iran,” Omar Shahid, deputy inspector general (DIG) of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), said.
According to an official handout, Jafri, who was arrested in Karachi, was trained in 2014 and, among other skills, taught to perform intelligence operations and provide medical services.
“The arrested terrorist specialized in automatic weapons and received training from a neighboring country,” the handout added.
Jafri, from whom weapons were confiscated, was also described as the right-hand man of Yawar Abbas and named in the “Red Book”, an official document on that lists  names and profiles of hardened militants.
According to the police, Jafri was involved in carrying out reconnaissance activities for militants.
The arrested man has been shifted to an undisclosed location for further investigation, police said.
Earlier in December, CTD said it had arrested two members of the Zainabiyoun Brigade from the Korangi area of Karachi in connection with a string of killings over the last six years. 
Tehran has not responded to the CTD’s claims.
On November 27, an AP report said that a group of Pakistanis was among 19 pro-Iran militia fighters killed in eastern Syria.
In March, a senior official told Arab News that up to 50 Pakistani fighters were killed by the Turkish army and Syrian forces in a major rebel stronghold in the northwest of the country.