Pakistan International Airline has decided to induct two new aircraft in its fleet in the first quarter of 2019. The A320 aircraft already under the evaluation phase will be acquired on a dry lease as per the press release issued by PIA PR. But according to our information, these aircraft will be brought in on a wet lease basis as a stop-gap solution. PIA has already published a tender for wide body and narrow body aircraft to comply with PPRA Rules. The decision was taken in an executive meeting chaired by Chairman & CEO Mr Muhammad Saqib Aziz.
According to inside information available with Pakistan Aviation, the meeting discussed the increased demand in the market after the disappearance of Shaheen Air from the International and domestic market and take advantage of this. PIA engineering informed the management that the fleet utilisation is stretching the fleet and there is a shortage of aircraft that can disrupt the schedule. Although the engineering failed to uprise the management about their plans to sort the grounded fleet. Currently, 5 PIA planes are grounded, putting the pressure on its working fleet and engineering has failed to address this issue miserably.
Mr Saqib Aziz said that with the acquisition of two aircraft will PIA will expand its network and passenger base as well. These aircraft will mainly be used on domestic and regional routes including Gulf and South East Asian Region.
The biggest question is how long it will take to get these aircraft in the fleet and if there will be any demand left in the market by then. The previous management was almost on the verge of inducting Airbus A330 aircraft in the fleet to enhance the Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok routes. These A330s were also supposed to be deployed on new routes like Guangzhou, but typically with the management departure, the plan goes on the back burner.
The most important question is that PIA’s engineering is in dire straits and currently the situation is there are multiple planes stuck without parts while the management has decided to get aircraft on lease. It was high time if they decided to spend the money on sorting out their current fleet rather than going after an easy solution.
But PIA is almost back to where it moved during the period of Musharraf Rasool Cyan who improved the utilisation of fleet and managed the schedules without the 4 wet-leased aircraft.