- Pakistan International Airlines is leasing out its slots at London Heathrow Airport to other carriers due to being blocked by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), but hopes to resume flights to the UK soon.
- PIA has given up its slots for six months to Vietnam Airlines and Kuwait Airways, allowing the carrier to continue complying with the terms of its slot contract.
- Pakistan’s Aviation Minister expects the airline to resume flights to the UK in the next three months and mentioned new legislation that would help the airline overcome challenges.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is leasing out its slots at London Heathrow Airport (LHR) to other carriers due to being blocked by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Although flights will remain banned this summer, the airline hopes that service to the UK will return.
Although not actively flying to London, PIA’s strategy of leasing its slots allows the airline to continue to hold them. However, LHR has reportedly been aiming for PIA to lose its landing rights.
Picking up the slots
According to ch-aviation.com, PIA has given up six weekly slot pairs for six months to Vietnam Airlines from April 1st to October of this year. Kuwait Airways will pick up PIA’s ten weekly slot pairs from March 26th to October 22nd. In 2020, the CAA banned PIA after a scandal involving the carrier’s pilots and the validity of their licenses.
LHR makes slots available to airlines as long as they are constantly used. Any carrier that holds a slot at the airport must use them at least 70% of the time. With PIA leasing out the slots it holds to other airlines that will use them, the carrier still complies with the terms of its slot contract. Still, despite not controlling slot assignments, the airport has been pushing for PIA to lose its slots for some time, according to ch-aviation.com.
Making a comeback to the UK
While PIA will continue to utilize its leasing strategy for the next few months, the airline is hopeful that it will be able to resume flight operations to the UK and other destinations. Pakistan’s Aviation Minister, Khawaja Saad Rafique, said the airline would likely resume flying to the UK in the next three months, according to the Pakistan Observer. The minister also spoke about new legislation that would reportedly take away the challenges PIA experiences when attempting to fly to Britain.
Other details were not shared regarding the new regulations or the reasoning behind allowing PIA to resume flights. However, Rafique reportedly made it clear that destinations in the EU would not be included in the first phase of the airline restarting its operations. It would not be until the following phase that flights are expanded to Europe and America. According to the Pakistan Observer, PIA’s route to the UK is crucial as the country and other European nations make up one-third of the airline’s total revenue. While being blocked, PIA has experienced significant losses prompting the government to take different measures to go against the ban.
Generating money and improving safety
On July 13th, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) informed the National Assembly Standing Committee that it plans to outsource operations at three major airports, Islamabad International Airport, Lahore International Airport, and Karachi International Airport, in the hopes of increasing foreign exchange earnings.
PCAA Director General Khaqan Murtaza, some politicians, and officials from the Ministry of Aviation, PIA, and Pakistan’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Board were all reportedly attending a meeting where the PCAA announced its outsourcing plans.
Ishaq Dar, Pakistan’s Finance Minister, hopes that new operators at the airports will work on improving safety. Dar also hopes that a deal with Islamabad International Airport will be done by August 12th. Additionally, the Finance Minister is trying to push through the amendments to the civil aviation laws, including a restructuring plan for PIA.
Source : Simple Flying