CAA gets international recognition
By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Jan 01 - 14, 2001
The civil aviation industry, which is a key factor
for promotion of social, political and economic life in the modern
times, was unfortunately a neglected sector in Pakistan.
Most of the international airlines early operating
from Pakistan were compelled to cease their operations mainly because
of harsh bureaucratic attitude, poor quality of airport handling and
safety standards and of course exorbitant airport handling and fuel
charges in Pakistan. No doubt, the law and order situation has been a
problem in Pakistan, yet the international media played a dirty role
by blowing the situation out of proportion to place Pakistan as a risk
country. It is unfortunate that those responsible for counter such
propaganda were also failed miserably to deliver the goods.
Consequently Pakistan had to pay the price and most of the
international airlines such as KLM, Lufthansa, Pan American, Japan
Airlines etc. switched over their operations from Pakistan to Dubai.
The present government has however taken some
corrective measures by bringing the fuel charges, airport handling
charges at par with the other airports in the region while the present
team looking after the civil aviation affairs also proved their
professional competency by improving the safety standards which have
been officially acknowledged by the International Aviation
Organizations. Although the damage has been done yet the civil
aviation authorities have done a great job by restoring the image of
the country which has been accorded with Cat.1 by the FAO. As a result
of their marketing campaign and image building efforts those
international airlines which had early left Pakistan are considering
resuming their flights from Pakistan. A package of incentives at the
airports has also been introduced to attract foreign airlines to route
flights through Pakistan. Meetings were also held with the
representatives of Oil Companies and Ground Handling Agencies to try
and look at the possibilities by offering competitive fuel and
handling charges Vs the airports in Gulf and UAE. It is expected that
measures would certainly help attracting over-flying cargo airlines to
make a technical stop over at Karachi. Reduction of landing/ housing
charges by 50 per cent at Karachi for flights has also been
implemented which has started showing good results especially for
increased technical landings at Karachi airport.
According to informed sources Lufthansa is already
in the process of introducing their flights twice a week from Lahore
In order to get a true picture of the situation; PAGE
has interviewed Air Marshal Aliuddin, Director General Civil Aviation
Authority (CAA) for the benefit of the readers.
Contrary to his cool and composed gestures while
discussing small or major issues pertaining to the development of
civil aviation standards in Pakistan, Air Marshal Aliuddin, the
Director General Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in fact has ambitious
rather aggressive plans to give a new look to his organization
stagnant for the decades.
The moral boosting achievement in the shape of
reinstatement of CAA to the Category-1 recently by the Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States of America of
course goes to the credit of the present team of CAA led by the Air
This decision by the US Government is seen as a
major breakthrough especially while taking the cool attitude the US
administration has been displaying for quite some times in the past.
In a letter received by Air Marshal Aliuddin,
Director General CAA, the FAA has confirmed that in accordance with
the policy of FAA, the assessment category designation for the
Government of Pakistan would be publicly disclosed as Category 1.
This elevating decision has placed Pakistan amongst
those privileged countries, which enjoy easy access to any European
and American airports. The national carrier is expected to gain
special benefits from the re-categorization of Pakistan. In June 2000,
the global aviation watchdog — International Civil Aviation
Organization (ICAO) had put its trust in the standards and rules
adopted by CAA after thoroughly examining its flight safety and
security standards. Since then the Director General, CAA had been
rigorously pursuing the FAA for Cat-1 status.
Finally the recently concluded meeting of the
director generals of civil aviation of the Asia and Pacific region
held at New Zealand, provided an opportunity to Air Marshal Aliuddin
to directly plead his case before the FAA officials. This active
persuasion yielded the much-awaited honour for the country. The CAA is
setting forth new priorities in order to keep pace with changes in the
aviation environment. Being at the conflux of major international
routes, CAA is determined to provide safe and efficient air traffic
services and strives to improve their quality through the induction of
Though the Air Marshal was keeping a low profile
while talking about the future development plans of the CAA yet the
plans in hands give a preview of a forthcoming prestigious commercial
complex in the periphery of the Jinnah Terminal for generating
economic activities in the surroundings.
CAA is endeavouring to launch at least two
meaningful commercial projects:
For the first time since inception, Karachi's prime
land around Quaid-e-Azam International Airport has been demarcated and
mutated in favour of CAA. A new more liberal and realistic land
leasing policy is being framed and will be implemented shortly after
approval of the CAA Board.
To generate more funds through commercialization of
the available resources, the board has approved that open tendering of
expired concessions and providing more opportunities to various
concessionaires has broad based income through concession areas. This
would add up to the projected income of CAA. A contract with McDonalds
has been signed and groundbreaking ceremony has already been held for
construction of a restaurant at Jinnah Terminal, which would earn CAA
sizeable profits. Other major commercial proposals like Housing
projects theme parks, schools and hotels are also being pursued.
Despite the general economic down turn whereby there is low private
sector participation in the economy, it is CAA's target to effect an
increase in income of at least 10 per cent. "We aim to execute at
least one major project within 6 months. Six monthly evaluation and
update of commercialization efforts, total savings and success of the
final plan will continue to be provided," the DG of the
In order to become competitive and commercially
viable within the region and to redress the grievances of the
international airlines operating from Karachi, the government has
taken some bold decisions on the recommendations of the CAA. In
accordance to the policy, the government has reduced the landing and
housing charges for all technical landings for regular commercial
public transport, cargo and charter operations to a level, which is at
par with that prevalent in the region.
Further reduction of 25 per cent in landing and
housing charges for every technical landing exceeding 10 in a given
Reduction in charges up to 1-15 per cent below that
prevalent in the region by ground handling service for technical
Major reduction in aviation fuel prices by the
government of Pakistan for technical landings to a level of 2 cent per
US Gallon below Dubai aviation fuels prices.
Attractive discounts by the fuel companies for
technical landings tied to bulk volume purchases in aviation fuel.
Creation of a transit cargo facility.
Discounted packages for airline crews at the major
five star hotels at Karachi.
Single window operations by CAA for all airline
operators for any business related with the airport.
Visa on arrival on a payment of a small fee for all
travellers excepting those countries on the negative list.
CAA is also working on additional measures to
improve aviation infrastructure throughout the country. Under this
programme, a cargo village is to be constructed at Karachi to cater to
the bulk cargo exported from Pakistan. This cargo village will also
have transit cargo facilities to cater to the needs of the expanding
markets in the Middle East and Central Asia.
New Terminal at Lahore. Air Marshal Aliuddin said
that in pursuance to Chief Executive's directives for exercising
economy in all major ongoing works, the necessary exercise was carried
out for economizing expenditure on New Terminal complex at Lahore. A
number of meetings were held between CAA, Consultant and Contractor in
order to implement the proposed economy drive. Consequently the
economy drive proved fruitful in the form of savings worth Rs1.308
billion after deletion and modification of certain specifications in
design, reduction in consultancy and supervision charges and
allocation for contingency expenditures from the original project
Development of a new terminal complex at Lahore
International Airport is another highlight of the CAA. This complex
will ease parking congestion at Lahore and enable many carriers to
start service to the second largest city of Pakistan.
Construction of a new cargo complex at Lahore
International Airport is yet another target to help boost country's
export sector. The CAA authorities are aiming at creating a cargo hub
at Lahore for the industries and export houses of northern areas
through this cargo complex to be developed at Lahore.
Since November 1999 immediate steps were taken to
exercise effective control over leakage and wastage of funds. A
stricter financial discipline has been imposed to prevent pilferage
and wasteful expenditure. Similarly, to check the tendency of
concessionaires to default on CAA payments, a drive was launched
against defaulters. Special teams were formed and assigned the task of
recovering CAA dues. As a result of this and checks on wasteful
spending, CAA was able to save a heavy sum of about Rs630 million. It
is our target to effect savings of at least Rs1 billion a year, said
the Air Marshal. There has been slow but some progress in
reconciliation of long outstanding disputes.
Embargo: CAA is required to pay an amount of RS
2 billion each year for the next 3 years on account of borrowing and
contractual obligation of new Lahore Airport. The original plan was to
borrow funds to meet debt servicing during 2000 to 2004-5. With the
imposition of strict financial discipline with in the organization,
CAA has set itself a target to avoid borrowing for the next two years.
The target is to finance debt servicing of the project through
self-generation over this period.
Policy: CAA has recommended following in the
revised national Aviation Policy:
Regulate domestic and international operations.
Encourage competition for both domestic and
Attract quality foreign airlines to Pakistan.
Ensure that grant of 5th freedom rights is on a
strictly reciprocal basis, catering for commercial value of market,
for which the rights are exchanged.
Contain predatory pricing and unfair competition,
both internationally and domestically, through a system of filing of
tariffs and compliance thereof.
Improve terminal facilities and remove bottlenecks
for passengers, making Pakistani airports passenger friendly.
Agreements: Bilateral Air Services Agreement
has been concluded with United Kingdom as under:
UK authorities for operation beyond UK and USA have
granted fifth freedom rights for Pakistani carriers from points other
than London Heathrow and London Gatwick. Reciprocal rights were
granted to the other territories.
The designated carriers of the two countries can
exercise own stop over rights in each other's territories.
Liberalized exchange of 5th freedom rights has been
made on cargo services between the two countries.
Switzerland: Revised Liberal Air Services
Agreement was also concluded with Switzerland as follows:
Up to a total of six weekly flights to Islamabad
and/ or Lahore, without any capacity restrictions, with no more than
three weekly flights to any one point. From summer 2001 schedule,
their airlines will be authorized to operate unlimited frequencies to
Lahore and Islamabad.
Swiss Air is already permitted unlimited weekly
frequencies to Karachi. Subsequently to CAA's "yield improvement
programme". Swiss Air has recently launched their fourth weekly
frequency between Zurich-Dubai-Karachi.
Cathay Pacific: Cathay Pacific has been
designated as the 2nd operating carrier of Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific
has commenced its thrice-weekly services to Pakistan on Hong
Kong-Bangkok-Karachi sector from September 1, 2000 and their fourth
frequency will be launched from January 1, 2002.
An agreement was also signed between Federal
Aviation Authority of Russia and CAA of Pakistan concerning the
transfer of Regulatory Oversight Functions and Duties.
Pak-Afghanistan: A V-Sat communication link has
recently been established between Pakistan and Afghanistan through the
involvement of International Airline Transport Association (IATA). The
V-Sat link provides online data and voice communication between
Lahore/Karachi in Pakistan and five points in Afghanistan. This was a
long outstanding demand of IATA to have this link established in order
to have instant communications possible between neighbouring Flight
Information Regions. These links contribute directly in improving
safety of flight and makes it possible to increase airline traffic
through Afghanistan, which was hitherto considered unsafe due to lack
of communication links. The establishment of a V-Sat link is likely to
increase over-flights through Pakistan airspace and will help attract
technical landings as well.
Secondary Runway: Secondary Runway Karachi has
been completed at a cost of Rs900 million. This additional facility
would certainly help enhancing landing facilities at Jinnah terminal.
Wana: CAA is also considering developing an
airport at Wana for landing of small planes like Fokker in order to
create linkage with Peshawar.
Sialkot: Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and
Industry has offered to construct Sialkot airport with their own
initiative and funds. Feasibility and commercial viability of the
project is under consideration of the chamber.
Passengers: CAA has also initiated a number of
steps to bring visible improvement in facilities to passengers at all
the airports in Pakistan. At all the major airports, misbehaviour,
overcharging and unruly behaviour of taxi drivers has been checked
effectively with the help of Military Police. In order to ensure that
the passengers are not fleeced, proper counters have been established
where fares are displayed and passengers are issued computerized
coupons indicating particulars of the taxi being hired and name of the
driver so as to hold all concerned accountable for any mishap.
Unpredictable flight schedules despite meticulous planning and slots
allocation generally cause severe problems. Passenger traffic at
Lahore and Islamabad has been increased recently. The present terminal
buildings despite recent additions remain inadequate. The introduction
of Customs X-ray machines for international departure/ arrival lounges
further compounded the problem of both congestion and delays. Now,
Customs and ASF use the same X-ray machine for their checks. With the
implementation of this policy there is saving both space and time. Now
the departing passengers do not have to put their hold baggage through
two separate machines. In addition, of both departure and arrival
halls have been rearranged with a view to improve passenger traffic
flow. At Islamabad, major expansion of the arrival lounges is being
executed at a cost of Rs78 million.
Manning of all CAA facilitation and vigilance
counters has been ensured. CAA facilitation staff is made available in
uniform. Surprise checks to ensure their presence and conduct is also
carried out regularly. Signology at all airports have been reviewed
and improved. Regular announcements are being made to keep the public
informed. Strapping machine facility has been provided at the airports
free of charge to the travelling public. Strapping costs are being
borne by the airlines.
Baggage: Minimum possible time is taken for
transportation of baggage from aircraft to baggage claim area.
Adequate arrangements are being ensured to protect the baggage from
inclement weather and pilferage during transit on tarmac.
Immigration: Immigration staff has been asked
to handle the passengers with courtesy and arrangements are made for
filing of disembarkation cards for those who are not proficient
enough. There would be separate counters for holders of Pakistan
origin cards, foreign passports and Pakistan passports. Customs staff
both female and male is emphasized to guide in filling up of forms in
case goods have to be declared. Undue harassment of incoming
passengers should be avoided at all costs. Existing green channel
facilities for passengers who have nothing to declare are publicized
and the green channel clearly defined by signologies of Red and Green
channel with background of relevant colours so that it can be availed
by all those eligible. Checking of leaving passengers, by certain
agencies beyond arrival loungers except with written authorization and
prior information has been done away with. Airlines, Immigration and
ASF personnel man their counters timely to avoid any delay in
clearance of passengers.
In view of persistent complaints of harassment and
unfair deal to passengers, all porters and meet and assist contracts
have been cancelled. This step has resulted in stoppage of passenger's
harassment by the porters. There have been numerous complaints from a
number of agencies about the lack of porter service facility. CAA has
made alternate arrangements from its own staff to help aged travellers,
ladies, children and sick passengers.
The corrective initiatives taken by the present
team of CAA hopefully produce good results improving image of the
country within and outside Pakistan. The Master Plan chalked out for
creating economic activities around the major airports is yet another
step in the right direction to tap all available resources at the
optimum level. The upcoming commercial town around Jinnah Terminal
would be yet another gift for Karachiites in general after the
recently completed Bagh-e-Quaid Azam around the tomb of the Father of