Amid COVID-19 pandemic PIA suffers Rs 32bn loss

Pakistan’s national carrier (PIA) has suffered a loss to the tune of Rs 32 billion this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, whereas, the debt owed to PIA has reached Rs 400 billion.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pakistan National Airlines (PIA), Arshad Malik, told the cabinet in a briefing that the air operation was closed due to coronavirus pandemic due to which the Umrah and Hajj seasons could not take place.

CEO Arshad Malik further said that in the year 2019, the profit of the company increased by more than 42%, this profit increased after 8 years and the profit of the company remained close to Rs. 7.80 billion.

On July 1, the European Air Safety Agency (EASA) issued a six-month ban on all PIA flights to Europe. The United Kingdom and the USA followed suit imposing a ban on all PIA flights. Many international airlines worldwide have grounded Pakistani pilots. The current ban comes in the aftermath of an inquiry report regarding the crash of PIA flight 8303, operated by Airbus A320. In June, Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar stated that 260 of 860 Pakistani pilots, including 141 PIA pilots, never sat for the exams and that their licenses were fake.

PIA operated regular flights to various destinations in the UK and Europe before the ban was placed. The week before the ban the national airline operated 23 flights to the UK, including ten flights to London, nine to Manchester, and four to Birmingham, whereas six flights went to different destinations in Europe.

Meanwhile, PIA decided that it will not appeal against a six-month ban imposed on its lucrative flights to European locations, three officials said, in a blow to the ailing airline’s pre-pandemic turnaround plans. “We’ve decided that filing an appeal at this stage will be counter-productive,” PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan said.