The international passenger traffic from Pakistan
has decreased by 30 per cent during the last few months.
By SYED M. ASLAM
Feb-11 - 17, 2002
The decision to use the Karachi International
Airport as a logistic transition point by the US for its operations in
Afghanistan prompted many a loud headlines in the Pakistani press,
particularly vernacular. Are the premises of the older part of the
Airport been handed over to the US-led forces and the dreaded FBI?
News of the US military and intelligence personnel staying at two
hotels within the vicinity of the airport and the beefed up security
in the area also gave media all sorts of ideas.
Is the Airport being handed over to the US? The
Deputy Director General Operations of the Civil Aviation Authority,
Air Vice Marshall Arshad Rasheed Sethi, told PAGE that the US
is allowed to use the Airport purely on commercial basis like any
other airline. However, the arrangement "is not
government-to-government kind of operation but rather a purely
commercial one where due billing process will be followed."
The use of the Airport will help us improve our
revenues, both from aeronautical and non-aeronautical charges, which
took a serious battering due to closure of operations by twelve of the
total eighteen airlines serving Pakistan after September 11. The
situation further worsened when India withdrew overflying right to the
national carrier PIA resulting in a similar measure by Pakistan
eroding CAAís revenue from use of national airspace by Indian Air
Lines and Air India."
It may be mentioned here that Air India was using
the Pakistani air space for some 200 flights each month while Indian
Airlines was using it for 90 flights every month prior to the ban
imposed by Pakistan in a tit-for-tat measure. CAA is losing Rs 7
million a month alone in route navigational charges as the two Indian
airlines are not allowed to use the national air space since January
Asked what amount of revenue CAA is expecting to
generate from the US operations out of the Karachi Airport, Sethi said
that it will depend on the frequency of the flights and the weight of
the aircraft. "While it is not possible to make a calculated
guess the CAA certainly will be generating a substantial amount of
revenue, both aeronautical and non-aeronautical.
"The decision of the US to use the Karachi
Airport will help CAA cut it losses due to the reasons listed above.
The situation has already started to get better as many of the
airlines which closed their operations after September 11 have resumed
operations even if it is on reduced frequency."
While the situation is getting better, Air Vice
Marshall Sethi told PAGE that CAA is losing a substantial
revenue of $3 million a month, three-fourth of it in aeronautical
charges alone the bulk of which comes from Route Navigational, or
overflight, charges. "Prior to September 14, when Afghanistan
closed its air space, the frequency of overflights using the national
air space was an average of 270 overflights a day. The number of
overflights dropped to as low as just 50-60 a day afterwards but has
now risen to an average 100 a day. While we expect the situation to
improve with the passage of time to ultimately resume the previous
level we are certainly welcome the recent developments to help cut our
While route navigational charges make up the
biggest portion of the $ 3 million loss that the CAA is incurring at
present, it is also losing a sizeable amount in another
aeronautical-related revenue — the landing and housing charges. It
is also losing a substantial revenue from such non-aeronautical charge
as embarkation fee (which is collected by the government and is later
reimbursed to the Authority) and the usage of facilities at the
"CAA is losing between $ 1-1.5 million a month
in route navigational charges, between $ 500,000 to $ 750,000 a month
in landing and parking fee and between $ 200,000-250,000 a month in
embarkation fee. Aeronautical-related revenue from Route Navigation
and landing and parking make up about two-thirds or about $ 2 million
of the total $ 3 million that the CAA is losing every month. On the
other hand, non-aeronautical-related revenue like embarkation fee and
usage of airport facilities is depriving the CAA a revenue of about $
1 million a month."
Sethi attributed the substantial loss in
aeronautical revenue, both from overflights and landing and parking,
on the lesser frequency of flights by foreign airlines due primarily
to a substantial drop in international passenger traffic. He
attributed the drop in international passenger traffic from Pakistan
to a single factor — the non-availability and issuance of visas and
a much stricter travel restrictions to the Pakistanis at present.
"The international passenger traffic from Pakistan has decreased
by 30 per cent during the last few months."