INTERVIEW: KAUKAB IQBAL, CHAIRMAN CONSUMER ASSOCIATION OF PAKISTAN
Jan 30 - Feb 5, 2012
Mr. Kaukab Iqbal is the chairman of CAP and rendered his matchless and unbelievable services for the protection of consumers' rights. He is the founder of consumer association of Pakistan, which create awareness among consumers towards their rights. Basically, he belongs to a respectable, noble and literary but a moderate family. Mr. Kaukab Iqbal started his excited attachment for this grand purpose when he was gaining primary education. He had been the social secretary of his school. Later on, he was assigned with the responsibilities of the president which indicates and exposes his devotion and dedication for empowering the society with its rights. He bagged his B.Tech from a recognized university along with seeking training internationally for the consumer's awareness programs. That is why he visited different countries to know about the rights of consumers. He, after his successful achievements in education, attached to his business on the suggestion of his father, who used to work in a distinguished company. After gaining partnership there, he started import and export and worked a lot for coconut oil plam plantation, and has a durable reputation for this plantation through out Pakistan. Today, he is not known only in the country as protector of consumers' rights but also in the world. Page interviewed Kaukab Iqbal in his office to enlighten the consumers to what are their rights while using products.
- Best Performance Award from "United Human Rights Commission of Pakistan"
- Best Performance Award 2007 from "Riwaj Foundation"
- S.H. Hashmi Memorial Award 2006 from "Karachi Citizen and Welfare Association"
- Muhammad Jamil Abbasi Memorial Award-2009 from "All Pakistan Jamiatul Abbasi Welfare Society"
- Best Performance Award - Aeteraf-E-Kamal from "Sharmila Art Production"
- 1st Global CEO Excellence Award 2010 by Global Media Links
- Best Performance Award - Quaid-E-Awam Bhutto Award from "United Human Rights Commission of Pakistan"
- Energy Award 2010 from "Pak Energy Review"
- Azm e Pakistan Award 2011 by UHRCP
- Watan Dost Award 20111 by WDWF
PAGE: WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ABOUT AVIATION SECTOR OF PAKISTAN?
KAUKAB IQBAL: Transportation sector is most important sector of any economy and aviation industry is major part of this sector. In Pakistan, the transportation and communication sector holds more than 10 per cent share in GDP (gross domestic product). The aviation industry can affect the other sectors of the economy, e.g. the international trade, tourism, and socioeconomic condition of the country.
Historically, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has been dominating the major portion of aviation industry in Pakistan. The state-owned PIAC was established in 1955 to conduct the domestic as well international operations. It enjoyed the monopoly until the deregulation of aviation industry.
In 1993, civil aviation authority opened the aviation sector for private investors in order to boost the healthy competition for better traveling services at low price fares. As a result, many private companies made induction into this industry. Most of them have left the arena due to heavy taxes of CAA, which would not sustain the cost structure of their companies.
A private company, Airblue, besides PIA, is operating on international routes. The gulf is another important and lucrative market for airlines. Airblue is operating in this sector. The U.K and North American destinations are profit-making routes.
PIA has made investment of billions of rupees for acquiring the state of the art aircrafts for operations in North American region. International routes are major area of competition for the upcoming airlines. The CAA policy regarding the international routes is very open but requires the minimum standards to be met before operating on international routes and must have experience of domestic operations.
The Airblue is struggling to capture the share of domestic and international routes mainly the Karachi-Lahore-Islamabad sector and UAE .
Airblue has conducted the operation on Karachi-Lahore-Islamabad route and is in stage of capturing the domestic market by offering compatible airfare. Airblue has offered discount on early booking and introduced the e-ticketing for the first time in the history of Pakistan.
The major focus of Airblue is on customer comfort. It has trained its employees in foreign countries in line with the maximum customer satisfaction. The airline's management claims that it would provide in-flight entertainment not offered by other airlines.
Another landmark of Airblue airline is innovative e-ticketing technology through which customers can make reservation online 24 hours a days and 7 days a week. The convenience of air travel reservation by new system will enhance the customer satisfaction, and new innovative technologies would encourage other operators to introduce similar technologies for their survival in the market.
Another private airline Bhoja Air is going to start its operation soon again in Pakistan. The company incorporated but cancelled its operation some years back due to unpaid taxes of CAA. Later on, some foreign group invested in order to re-launch its operation.
PAGE: WOULD IT BE CORRECT TO SAY THAT AIRLINES THESE DAYS ARE OVERCHARGING?
KAUKAB IQBAL: Air travel is still a luxury keeping in view the socioeconomic conditions of the people of Pakistan. So, prices of tickets do not matter for the upper class due to inelastic demand. In this scenario, quality services can play vital role in attracting the customer base. Different loyalty programs offered by airlines are part of their strategy to retain its customers. The airlines like Airblue focus on passenger comfort. The call centers have been established to guide their customers 24 hours a day. In coming years, the basis of competition would be how airlines deliver services that offer value for money.
Recently many developments have taken place. India has opened the air corridor for Pakistani airlines. In all these threats and opportunities, the new and existing airlines are going to operate and compete with each other not solely on price base but also on the basis of services standards.
PAGE: WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON MARKET SHARE OF PIA AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT THE CONSUMERS?
KAUKAB IQBAL: PIA has started operation to India and Far East, and the foreign carriers who closed their Pakistan operations are back. Now, the question arises that how new airlines would capture the market. PIA was dominating the market by 75 per cent and rest was enjoyed by Airblue and Shaheen Airline. In prevailing conditions, the new entrants would either gain the share from currently operating airlines or create new customer base or combination of both. Let us see how they are going to survive in cutthroat competition.