Yesterday was one of the darkest days in Pakistani aviation history. A Pakistan International Airlines flight PK661, enroute from Chitral to Islamabad crashed in Abbotabad on December 7th 2016.
All 47 lives of the people onboard were lost. Amongst those were those of Junaid Jamshed (former pop culture icon turned televangelist), DCO Chitral and numerous others.
Given the reputation that PIA enjoys with the Pakistani populace, and the hyperventilating media frenzy that followed the tragic plane crash yesterday, the national carrier finds itself under an unflattering spotlight. The kind of spotlight that will not go away anytime soon.
JJ factor alone can hurt the airline bad
PIA has always been thought of as a mismanaged entity, with losses and endemic corruption being par for the course for the national airline. But during the last year and under a new management, it was doing more than its bit to revamp its negative image in the eyes of its countrymen and women.
It went on a PR charm offensive, rolling out the Premier service, the induction of new planes in its fleet, discounted fares and so much more.
Unfortunately, after yesterday’s crash, irrespective of the probable causes, PIA is in for a tough time.
Just think about how many people could think thrice, not twice, when travelling with the national carrier now. The unfortunate deaths of high-profile personalities have further burrowed into our collective consciousness. Seeing as how Junaid Jamshed was beloved by Pakistanis from all walks of life, the JJ factor alone can hurt the airline bad.
In this world where social media has amplified our biases and analysis, it is difficult to discount the rock-bottom body blow that PIA received yesterday.
According to the Flight Safety Foundation:
Lets put the following data into simpler terms.
- During the years 1985-1999, PIA saw worrying 26 incidents.
- Fast forward to 2000-2014, the national airline saw 37 unfortunate incidents involving its aircraft.
- In short, the numbers 37 and 26 represent the number of incidents per 1 trillion seat kms with PIA.
- That’s an increase of 42% in incidents involving PIA aircrafts.
Granted that the data doesn’t take into account the last two years, but it is a worrisome prospect nonetheless. Given how PIA is one of the most preferred budget airlines offerings in Pakistan, the stage is set for other players to fly in and capitalize on PIA’s woes.
Will PIA recover from the PK661 tragedy? Or will it face tough times ahead as competitors with better safety records steal its marketshare amongst Pakistani travelers? Share your thoughts below.