ISLAMABAD: Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan on Friday informed the Senate that losses incurred by the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) have surged to Rs416 billion, adding that efforts were being made to acquire aircraft on dry leases to enhance flight operations.
Responding to various queries during the question hour, the minister said only non-commercially viable routes were being closed while viable ones were being opened.
He said domestic and international flights were reduced due to shortage of aircraft, adding that currently, PIA was operating its flights on 18 international routes, including UK, Italy, France, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, Iraq, Qatar, China, Malaysia, India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Thailand and Canada.
To a supplementary question, the minister said construction of an airport in Mansehra was only a political announcement as no funds were allocated for it.
He said after acquiring the required aircraft, more flights would be operated for Quetta while air traffic to Saidu Sharif would also be resumed.
To another question, he informed the house that the Chinese government had agreed to provide 100 per cent grant (Rs35.27 billion) for the construction of new Gwadar International Airport. “The Chinese contractor is expected to commence the construction work in June and the project is scheduled to be completed in 36 months,” he added.
To a separate question, Sarwar said a state-of-the-art baggage handling system had been installed at the Islamabad International Airport. “There is no need to increase the number of belts as the present baggage belts are sufficient in number to manage the baggage,” he maintained.