Pakistan International Airline (PIA) continues to face unending challenges on different fronts as another crisis hits in the form of Saudi Ground Services (SGS) threatening to terminate the provision of ground handling services in Saudi Arabia due to non-payment of 14 million Saudi Riyals.
According to informed sources, the management of the PIA received a final notification from SGS for the immediate payment of long outstanding dues against the ground handling services in different cities of Saudi Arabia.
SGS has been providing different services to foreign airlines including PIA at Saudi airports. PIA operates its flights in Jeddah, Madinah, Riyadh and Dammam.
SGS says that PIA has not paid any amount in last 6 months, which caused its management to serve the final notice and warning. It further said that PIA could pay at least SAR 2 million for the continuation of ground services out of total payable amount of SAR 14 million.
PIA spokesperson Mashood Tajwar confirmed that SGS delivered the final payment notice to the airline. According to him, the non-payment of dues is a routine matter, however the management of PIA is holding negotiations with SGS over the settlement of dues.
On the other hand officers belonging to PIA flight operations told ProPakistani that SGS officials are now very desperate for getting their dues immediately. If PIA does not take it seriously, the Umrah and upcoming Hajj operations could be affected badly, they added.
It is worth mentioning here that over 300,000 pilgrims from Pakistan visit Saudi Arabia every year for the purpose of performing Hajj and Umrah. There are hundred thousands of Pakistani expatriates living in different cities of KSA who also prefer to use PIA for their routine traveling to and from Pakistan.
Ground Handling Services
Ground handling services are very vital for effective airport and flight operations. SGS has the monopoly on ground handling at KSA’s commercial airports. It provides services to over 100 airlines in different cities of KSA. Services include passengers handling, ramp handling, fleet services, technical support, transportation and traffic.