According to a new financial report, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has suffered a loss of Rs.38 billion in the first three months of 2023 alone. The problems that plague the national carrier are well documented, and rather common knowledge –ineffective management, administrative problems, low revenue generation, inexperienced staff, low-quality aircraft and non-payment of dues to countless external actors that lent a helping hand in times of need. Successive governments made several promises to rescue the airline from deep waters but none have come through.
The report released on PIA’s performance shows that the airline generated 171 percent more losses in the first quarter of this year, when compared to 2022. In the last few months, authorities rejoiced as PIA made revenue worth Rs.61 billion, but this is not nearly enough to cover the costs that it incurs. Due to the rupee’s poor performance, operating costs have gone up by Rs.21 billion, as did rising oil prices. Negligence and poor management have contributed Rs.15 billion to the airline’s bill, on top of its pre-existing debts worth Rs.400 billion. This is an exorbitant amount of money that is being funneled down the drain, which is rather unfortunate considering that this money can be utilised for greater purposes. Our economy is struggling as it is, and we cannot afford to let billions be wasted on a company that only accumulates losses.
Seeking help, the carrier approached the government for a bailout package worth Rs.45 billion which has not been finalised due to the political crisis but even if it is approved, it is unclear how it will help. This is just a small amount that is unlikely to rescue the carrier altogether. The government has to focus on picking a strand to stick to when it comes to the airline. Whether that is privatising the company, selling more of its shares or improving the carrier altogether, the approach must be decided and finalised. We cannot afford to push dealing with this for any longer.