ISLAMABAD: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has decided to acquire eight new narrow-body aircraft to expand its fleet.
The aircraft with a capacity of over 170 seats — all economy with soft divider after two rows — are expected to be delivered between January and December 2021.
For this purpose, the airline had sought bids by January 11 to acquire eight new planes on a dry lease, “which means the airline would only acquire the aircraft without flight crew”.
A publication, citing spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez, reported the process is part of the business plan the flag-carrier had been working on for the past two years which got pushed back due to reduced demand owing to the pandemic.
“The new aircraft would replace some of the older planes in the fleet,” he said.
According to the PIA website, the airline’s fleet currently comprises 37 planes: seven Boeing 777s, nine Airbus-320s and 21 ATRs. Earlier in August, PIA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Air Marshal Arshad Malik said 12 new aircraft will be added to the airline’s fleet by 2023.
The cash-strapped national flag-carrier has been looking to reduce costs, particularly since the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Malik in July apprised Prime Minister Imran Khan of the strategies to be worked out regarding the reorganisation of the national airline during a meeting on reforming and restructuring PIA. This included how to improve the “financial discipline” of the company, the efficient utilisation of the company’s assets among other related matters.
At the meeting, the prime minister observed that “special attention” needed to be paid to reduce the airline’s expenses, increase its revenue and financial resources, and upgrade its aircraft.
“Special attention should also be paid to the best use of domestic and foreign assets owned by PIA through a clean and completely transparent procedure so that these assets do not become a further burden on the people,” he had said.