Pakistan International Airlines Unable To Pay Fuel Bills And Cancels Flights

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the national carrier of Pakistan, has been in the news recently due to its inability to cover its fuel bills. This has led to the cancellation of several domestic and international services, causing significant disruption for passengers.


Financial Crisis

The state-owned carrier has long been accused of poor management and burdening the Pakistani Government with debt. The airline's spokesperson, Athar Awan, reported that between Tuesday, 16th, and Wednesday, 17th October, 48 international and domestic services were axed due to the unavailability of fuel. This included 11 international services to destinations such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Sharjah, and Muscat. The reason for the disruption in fuel supply is non-payment of dues because PIA is facing a financial crisis and cannot pay the dues to Pakistan State Oil on time. Pakistani State Oil suspended fuel supply to PIA, only providing fuel for prioritized flights that had been paid for.

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Impact on Passengers

The cancellations have caused significant inconvenience for passengers. Those affected were moved to alternative services in the corresponding days. However, the airline has continued encouraging passengers to check their flight status or contact the airline's customer care center or travel agent before traveling to the airport. Fuel suspensions at Karachi Jinnah International Airport (KHI) saw some flights delayed by up to three hours, and cancellations affected domestic passengers to Sukkur and Faisalabad. Islamabad also saw a range of disruptions, including domestic flights to Gilgit, Quetta, and Multan.


Future Uncertain

The future of PIA remains uncertain. Decades upon decades of mismanagement by the carrier has crippled the Pakistani Government and, more recently, required a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to avoid the country defaulting on its loans. Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar has expressed his concerns with the current state of the airline's books and encouraged 'fast-tracking' to privatize the carrier⁴. Kakar hoped that should the airline be sold; it would improve its reliability and bring it up to the standards of neighboring international carriers.

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