Pakistan International Airlines eyes aircraft fleet revamp

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The government-owned Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plans to gradually revamp its aging aircraft fleet by inducting non-specified narrow-body planes as well as returning twin-turboprops ATR-72, which had been previously acquired by the air carrier under a lease agreement.

Speaking in a live session held on the official Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) social media page on June 8, 2021, Chief Executive Officer Arshad Malik hinted that the air carrier planned to implement its new business plan during the next three months. 

The plan consists of a few strategic moves, including the airline’s fleet renewal and the network expansion as well as the resumption of commercial operations to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom (UK), and Canada.

Malik said that PIA will renew the fleet with new narrow-body jets and will return three other ATR 72 aircraft, “which had been acquired many years ago on an expensive lease”.

Although the head of the company did not provide any more specific details on the exact type or quantity of jets that are expected to fly under the air carrier’s registration, Malik outlined that arriving planes will be equipped with “up-to-date entertainment systems”.

PIA operates a fleet of 27 planes,  an average age of 14.8 years. Currently, the airline flies 3 ATR 42s, a single ATR 72 turboprop as well as 11 Airbus A320-200 narrow-bodies, 8 Boeing 777-200s, and 4 Boeing 777-300ER jets, data shows. 

PIA already canceled another lease agreement for 4 ATR 72 aircraft in December 2020, arguing that operational costs of the planes were high and their operations were non-profitable. All 4 ATR 72 turboprops capable of flying 66 passengers had been acquired on a dry lease agreement in 2015. However, the airline said it was unable to return the planes earlier due to high cash penalties. It managed to return turboprops only after long negotiations with the lessor company.


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