KARACHI: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has painted the recently acquired A330 with green, maroon and golden colours, as the aircraft is all set to take off for its first ‘premier flight’ from Islamabad to London on Sunday – the Independence Day.
“It’s a commercial flight with all tickets sold. Around 330 passengers would be on board,” PIA spokesman Danial Gilani told The Express Tribune.
The airline has not charged additional fares from the passengers flying on the first premier flight. “Fares remain the same as… on the previous flights on the route. Fares may be revised upwards later on,” he said.
“The recently acquired aircraft A330 from the SriLankan Airlines on wet lease [on rent with staff] will replace Boeing-777 on routine weekly scheduled flights on the route,” he said.
No special flights have yet been planned for the premier services.
An official at PIA call centre said that they were aware of the launch of premier services on August 14. However, they were not given clear instructions about flight schedules from the management.
“The routine flight for London Heathrow airport is scheduled to leave Islamabad airport at 11:45am on Sunday,” she said.
“PIA has designated cars outside the London airport for the passengers who travel on the premier flights. The same service [of cars] will not be available to the passengers flying from London to Islamabad,” she added.
The minimum fare from Islamabad to London is Rs48,150 (one way). The maximum fare is Rs159,740, which is for business class. The tickets are sold on “first come first served” basis.
They are sold depending on the availability of seats and have nothing to do with “early booking or late booking”, she said.
The spokesman said PIA would fly six premier flights a week from Islamabad and Lahore, but flights have not been planned from Karachi for the time being.
“PIA attracts 70% of its business from the north. There is too much air traffic and competition in Karachi,” he said.
Originally, the A330 aircraft could carry 350 passengers. However, after up-gradation of the aircraft to offer premier services, the number of seats has been reduced to 330.
Last month, PIA signed an agreement with the SriLankan Airlines to acquire its three A330s, which are in surplus, on wet lease. The first of the three aircraft landed at Karachi airport on August 6. The remaining two are expected to arrive by February 2017.
PIA would launch its premier services on other routes, including China, with the availability of all the three A330s, which are said to be new or hardly used.
A source said PIA, the loss-making national airline, would pay $88,000 per day for each A330 to the SriLankan Airlines.
Spokesman Gilani, however, dismissed the figure as an exaggeration, “Have we put the entire airline on stake just to offer the premier service?”
“I cannot tell you the exact amount which PIA will pay. However, we have acquired the aircraft at market rates and as per Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules,” he said.
He said the premier services would be operated with mixed staff of Pakistan International Airlines and SriLankan Airlines.
Courtesy : Express Tribune