Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) announced the cancellation of 349 flights in the past two weeks due to a fuel shortage, highlighting the challenges faced by the financially strained national carrier. These cancellations, affecting both domestic and international routes, began on October 14.
The crisis coincides with the government’s decision to privatize PIA as part of a fiscal discipline plan associated with an IMF bailout agreement from June. PIA has incurred substantial losses and liabilities, making it unsustainable for the interim government.
The airline is currently rescheduling flights daily based on fuel availability but has not provided a specific timeline for the crisis resolution. PIA and the Pakistan State Oil company (PSO) are embroiled in a payment dispute. PIA alleges that PSO has suspended its credit line for fuel and now demands daily advance payments for supplies.
The statement from PIA emphasizes the necessity of managing funds, and the return to regular flight schedules will hinge on the availability of funds. Once flights resume, priority destinations include Canada, Turkey, China, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia, with the airline pledging to keep passengers informed about flight schedules.
It’s worth noting that PIA’s flights to Europe and the UK have been suspended since 2020 due to the European Union’s Aviation Safety Agency revoking the national carrier’s authorization following a pilot license scandal