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Pakistan's cash-strapped national carrier grounds 11 aircraft due to severe financial crisis

Three of the 11 grounded aircraft - including a Boeing 77, Airbus and ATR - are beyond repair due to lack of engines and other parts.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee Islamabad Published on: August 22, 2023 21:26 IST
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is facing a serious
Image Source : ANI/REPRESENTATIVE Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is facing a serious financial crisis

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Tuesday grounded 11 aircraft as the cash-strapped national carrier is suffering a severe financial crisis caused by lack of funds and increase in prices of petroleum products.

The 11 grounded aircraft included a Boeing 777, Airbus and an ATR , which have been called by a senior official as "beyond repair" due to not fulfilling the requirements of engines and other parts. The airline operates around 30 aircraft and has been unable to procure spare parts for the last three years due to scarcity of funds, Dawn reported citing sources.

Two Boeing 777 planes were grounded in 2020 and another one in 2021. Five A320 aircraft have also been grounded,  two in 2021 and three within this year. The Pakistani carrier has also grounded three ATR aircraft. 

A PIA spokesperson also cited Pakistan's increasing dependency on foreign currency as one of the reasons behind the aircraft being grounded. The senior official also warned that the airline will face a shortage of aircraft in case flights are increased, particularly on international routes.

Additionally, PIA has closed the office of the Senior Staff Associa­tion (SSA), saying that the decision was made to "maintain law and order situation and smooth functioning of the corporation’s activities."

The decision was met with protest, as SSA's secretary general Safdar Anjum termed the closure as illegal and an attempted sabotage of the peace of the organisation. 

The previous government led by Shahbaz Sharif had appointed a new MD in PIA and unveiled its plans to privatise the national airlines, which was been met with fierce resistance from the unions in the airlines.

Meanwhile, the People's Unity party continued protests against the privatisation of the national carrier and demanded an increase in salaries of employees. Hidayatullah Khan, the central president of People’s Unity, said the protest will continue until all demands are accepted.

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