Home articles Aviation policy

Aviation policy

AVIATION policy approved by the federal cabinet on Tuesday indeed is a comprehensive document envisaging all the important ingredients to overhaul the industry which in our country has long been neglected but in today’s world is considered as a prerequisite for economic and business activities along with the development of land and rail infrastructure. The test case for the government is as to how it pursues the policy’s implementation in order to reap its real benefits as implementation has always been an issue in our country.
Some of the policy measures such as zero tax on domestic air travel can be done with a stroke of pen and indeed this will be a welcome step as reduced domestic air fare will help the local airlines not only attract more travellers but it will also help the government in promoting tourism in the country. In our view the most important decision taken in the new policy is the withdrawal of open sky policy which over the years has really hurt Pakistan International Airline (PIA). The fact of the matter is that governments regulate granting traffic rights, routes and slots to foreign airlines on a reciprocal basis ensuring that local aviation industry rights are not compromised. No country allows foreign airlines total freedom to carry passengers from their country to main hub of that foreign carrier for onward journey to another country. But in our country this open sky policy which has continued since 1992 really damaged the PIA and hampered the growth of local airlines. Since the launch of open sky policy, PIA’s international destinations were reduced to less than 30 from 60. This policy would have brought dividends only if Pakistan-bound carriers were given equal opportunity to operate in the region. The withdrawal of open sky policy is a step in the right direction that will help put the local aviation industry on positive trajectory. Our aviation industry also urgently needs the establishment of new aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul setups, trained manpower, new airlines, joint ventures and rightly placed infrastructure to handle the needs of future economic hub of South Asia. At the same time it is important that facilities at the airports are upgraded as per the international standards for the convenience of travellers and leave a long lasting impact on the foreign tourists.