The European Aviation Safety Agency (ESA) has
accorded Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Engineering Department
with the prestigious PART-145, the quality certification bringing the
engineers of the national career to the world class status of Approved
Maintenance Organization (AMO).
By virtue of Part-145 certification, PIA has become
an approved maintenance organization for commercial aircraft, covering
the activities relating to maintenance of all types of aircraft and
components from any airline in the world.
The national career is now entitled to offer its
maintenance services to other airlines without and outside Pakistan.
Well placed sources in PIA said that excellence
achieved by the engineering department has opened new avenues for
revenue generation, which might be even more profitable than the revenue
generated through flight operations by the airline. That means that the
profits of the national airline are likely to take a quantum jump in the
days to come provided the airline keeps up the quality standards
required under this certification.
Actually, it calls for extra care as well as
efficiency to maintain the standards, as the Civil Aviation (GSAC),
France carry out quality test every six month of the holder of the
certificate part-145. Earlier the Emirates had won the certificate
part-145 but could not retain the quality of services it had previously.
Consequently, the certificate was withdrawn by GSAC. It amounts walking
on a tight rope to continue with the honor of part-145, said a top
ranking PIA official.
Soon after certification, PIA management has received
enquiries from a large number of airlines for maintenance of their
flights. Besides, domestic airlines including Shaheen Air, Aero Asia etc
foreign airlines have also approached for maintenance and checks of
their aircraft. Enquiries received from Flyair and MNG of Turkey,
Indonesia and Bangladesh airlines for different checks and maintenance
The usual charges for such checks and maintenance are
estimated at $60 per hour which means it's a costly affair and can bring
huge money if PIA manages to retain the title, sources said.
PIA, which is currently operating on 38 destinations,
is actively engaged for expanding its operations by adding new
destinations to take the total up to 50 all over the world. The decision
is being taken after the strengthening of PIA's fleet which has been
recently reinforced by inducting three Boeing 777 aircraft. While the
Fokker aircraft which have come to age, would also be replaced shortly.
The strengthening of fleet has enhanced the overall capacity of the
airline. In order to use available expanded capacity more productively,
PIA management is also reviewing its flight routes. Low yield routes
would be replaced by more revenue generating routes.
The resumption of air links with neighboring India
has also helped increasing 10 percent revenue of the airline. The
overall financial results during the current financial year are
projected to post an unprecedented profit of Rs4 billion at the end of
June 30, 2004.
PIA is, however, seems to be a little bit disturbed
with the arrival of more competitors in the domestic market, while three
private sector airlines were already in operations, the Civil Aviation
authorities have granted three more licenses to share the local as well
as on international routes. Although the aviation policy envisages that
private sector airlines would share the burden of low yield routes with
the national airline, yet the private sector airlines have not put even
a single aircraft on such loss making routes.
According to informed sources, PIA has already
expressed its disagreement with the aviation policy and it may ask the
government to ask the private sector airlines to operate on some of the
loss making routes which is entirely looked after by PIA in the national
interest, sources said.
The entire Hajj Operation is solely carried out by
PIA every year. Actually, the Hajj flights are heavily subsidized and
generate no profit to the airline. The new airlines which are coming
into operations may also be given some of the share in the Hajj flights
so that the burden could be equally shared by all, it is suggested.
The development of Gwadar deep sea port in
Balochistan is likely to generate economic activity in the days to come.
So far, it was a loss making route, however, with the development of the
port and other projects the traffic on this route has begun to pick up
and this route is likely to come at break even by next year. It all
depend how the investment plan in that third port city respond, it could
be an attractive route for revenue generation provided things move on
according to plan. The air strip at Gwadar airport is also being
improved to accommodate jet aircraft in near future.
According to a leading industrialist, the key to
success of the forthcoming port city in Balochistan lies in the policies
of the government. If this port city is declared as a free port like
Dubai, sky would be the limit for economic growth of this newly
developed port city.