The Minister for Aviation Division Ghulam Sarwar Khan, on Friday, informed the Senate that Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) losses have surged to Rs. 416 billion.
He added that efforts were being made to acquire the aircraft on dry leases to enhance flight operations.
Responding to various questions during Question Hour, the minister said that only non-commercially viable routes were closed while viable ones were being opened.
He said that domestic and international flights were reduced due to a shortage of aircraft. Currently, PIA is operating its flights on 18 international routes including UK, Italy, France, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, Iraq, Qatar, China, Malaysia, India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Canada, he said.
Answering another question, the minister said that the construction of an airport in Mansehra was only a political announcement and no funds were allocated for it.
He said more flights would be operated for Quetta after acquiring aircraft besides resuming air-traffic to Saidu Sharif.
To another question, the house was told that the Chinese government had agreed to provide a 100 percent grant of Rs. 3.5 billion for the construction of the new Gwadar International Airport. The construction work is expected to begin by June 2019 by the Chinese contractor and the project is scheduled to be completed in 36 months.
To a separate question, Ghulam Sarwar said that state of the art baggage handling system had been installed at Islamabad International Airport. The number of reclaimed baggage belts was six which were quite sufficient in number.
There was no need to increase the number of belts as the present baggage belts were sufficient in number to cater to baggage handling, he said.