Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aims to expand its network in Afghanistan by increasing its air cargo business.
CEO of PIA, Air Marshal (Retd.) Arshad Malik, met with Afghan government officials to further promote trade relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan through increased air cargo business. The meeting, which included the Afghan Aviation Head, Dr. Qasim Wafaizada, was held in Kabul on Tuesday.
In a bid to re-establish PIA, Malik discussed avenues for increasing air links between Pakistan and Afghanistan. According to official statements made to Afghan authorities, PIA plans to start flights to/from Kandahar and Mazar Shareef while also exploring avenues for increased air cargo operations.
During his visit to Pakistan’s Embassy in Kabul, the PIA CEO requested the Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan, Mansoor Ahmed to ensure swift and guaranteed visa for Afghans traveling to Pakistan via PIA
The PIA CEO also met with the officials of the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry to discuss viable business propositions to expand PIA’s network in Afghanistan.
PIA’s track record
PIA has been facing financial struggles. The pandemic alone caused PIA to lose over Rs 31 billion in the last year. Even before the pandemic, it was reported by the Minister In-charge of the Aviation Division that PIA incurred losses of Rs.54 billion from January to December 2019.
Apart from this, the high number of crashes and low-quality service is discouraging for passengers. According to various sources, PIA is responsible for the death of 704 passengers and crew members. Following the crash of the PIA Airbus A320 on 22nd May 2020, the airline was banned in Europe rest of the year.
It was also reported by Pakistan’s Aviation Minister that 262 out of 860 pilot licenses issued by the country’s civil aviation authorities were fraudulent. The airline has also been accused of foregoing applied standards of procedures.
Needless to say, all these factors do not make PIA the top choice for any passenger which leads to a lack of income.
PIA: promising future for Pak-Afghan relations?
However, these recent developments by PIA are an encouraging step towards improving the airline, and that too with Afghanistan, which is an important trade partner for Pakistan. Increased air cargo will enable both the countries to conduct business at a faster pace and reliance on the Torkham Border will reduce.
The success of this plan is yet to be seen. No doubt it is an ambitious one, and should it be efficiently carried out, PIA would garner huge profits, which would benefit both Pakistan and Afghanistan.