SIALKOT INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

S KAMAL HAYDER KAZMI,
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Research Analyst
, PAGE
June 21 - 27, 2010

Sialkot International Airport (SIAL) is a unique project of private sector, a pioneer in Asia. The exporters of Sialkot have exhibited a strong will and spirit in the recent past by establishing the Sambrial Dry Port Trust and are operating it successfully. While accepting the challenging task again, they took the initiative. Sialkot Chamber of Commerce & Industry requested the government to establish an airport in view of rising air freight requirements in the area. However, government expressed its inability to do so due to financial constraints.

The government had however approved the construction of an international airport at Sialkot and an MOU was signed between Sialkot Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Ministry of Defence through Civil Aviation Authority. The land was acquired and work started on the project in January 2003. The total cost of the international airport was Rs2.880 billion.

DEVELOPMENTS IN PROGRESS

Administration Block 100 % GHE Shed 85 %
Cargo Terminal 98 % Cargo Truck Parking 100 %
Domestic Terminal 100 % FCR building 100 %
ATC Tower 100 % Ground Handling Equipment 100 %
Runway, Apron and Taxi Way 100 % Air Field Lighting System 100 %

INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS

Domestic and international flights were started on Nov 30, 2007. There are nine national and eight international flights operating on various sectors on weekly basis from the airport. The two weekly flights are for Kuwait, Muscat, Sharjah and the one weekly flight for Abu Dhabi. The cargo flights have also been started by Qatar, Etihad and British Airways (DHL) on weekly basis. Bonded trucking facility from Sialkot International Airport to Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar Airport is already operational.

PIA & SIAL

PIA has assured the management of SIAL that the airline is working on possibilities to increase direct flights from the city to various international destinations. The MOU was signed between PIA and SIAL in this regard. The two sides agreed to make joint efforts for promotion of SIAL and to create awareness amongst passengers of facilities available there.

PIA has indicated that it would soon be launching flights from Sialkot for Sharjah and Jeddah. Moreover, connections will be provided to passengers traveling to and from Sialkot on PIA flights to London and some other destinations that are commercially viable.

CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) plays an important role in the development of a country's economy by regulating aviation industry of Pakistan. Private participation is encouraged through concession and incentives for development of airports and airlines to increase the availability of air transport services both domestically and internationally.

AIRLINE INDUSTRY

During the year 2009, the airline industry was adversely hit by overcapacity and fuel price volatility. Globally, airlines have recorded dips both in passenger/cargo loads and yields. IATA predicted net losses for 2009 at $11 billion. The passenger and cargo yields dropped 12 per cent and 16 per cent respectively. During 2009, passenger traffic shrunk 3.4 per cent globally. Revenue Passenger Kilometers (RPKs) and Revenue Freight tonne Kilometers (RFTKs) growths have been negative at 3.5 per cent and 10.1 per cent respectively.

Outgoing was yet another year of sharp swings in oil prices. Prices for a barrel (bbl) of IPE Brent ranged from around $40/bbl in February to $80/bbl in October last year. The average price was around $62.53/bbl or 36 per cent lower than the previous year. Last quarter of 2009 has shown more consistent signs of improvement in the air freight business. Volumes and yields are now moving in the right direction upwards, although there is still a long way to go before early 2008 levels are regained. Several years of growth have been lost in this extraordinary downturn. Moreover, revival in the economic growth is very uneven with a strong rebound in Asia and parts of South America but weak growth in developed markets is expected to remain that way for some time.

On domestic front, Pakistan suffered from a worsening law and order situation coupled with energy and power crises and unstable currency. Law and order situation has made the country non- favorable destination which has impacted overseas passengers' traffic inflows.

CONCLUSION

SIAL is the first green field airport of the country that has best airport facilities equal to international standards. It has accelerated the transportation of export cargo by air and facilitated a great number of businessmen and overseas Pakistanis of local origin.