PIA to induct 8 planes on lease

Turnaround drive

Zahid Chaudhary

Islamabad—Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) said on Monday it will to lease up to eight new aircraft in a move to upgrade its ageing fleet as the government seeks to turn around the loss-making flag carrier. A PIA spokesman said the airline had placed advertisements in newspapers on Sunday seeking to secure both short- and long-term leases for wide-body aircraft. The ad, which didn’t disclose financial terms for the leases, specified the airline is seeking modern planes, made since 2012, with capacity for more than 250 passengers each. Privatization of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) was on the priority list of the government but these plans were abandoned earlier this year after crippling strikes by staff protesting against the process, and a new turnaround strategy drawn up. The government now plans to convert PIA into a limited company and list 49 percent stake on stock exchange, meaning it will retain control of the business for at least two years. After that period, the government could still end up selling its controlling stake. In its ad titled “Revival of PIA”, the company sought a short-term “wet lease” of up to four wide-body aircraft, meaning the planes would come complete with crew and maintenance staff. The ad sought a long-term “dry lease” of up to another four aircraft, meaning aircraft without crew. It said the lease term would be six to eight years. PIA said the new aircraft must have the latest in in-flight entertainment services. Outdated planes with poor entertainment facilities are among frequent complaints made by travelers about PIA.

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