Lower air traffic and passengers have seriously hurt Pakistan during 2019, mainly due to frequent suspension of flight operations of domestic and international airlines following the tense warlike situation with India.
According to Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the number of flights in the country declined by 30 percent in the financial year 2018-19 as compared to the preceding year whereas the number of passengers that boarded from different countries and landed in various cities of Pakistan saw a double-digit drop of 15 percent in the same financial year.
The first six months of 2018 were normal for airline business but it saw a serious slowdown in the latter six months, from January to July 2019.
The flight operations were suspended in many cities of the country after February 2019 in the wake of military airstrikes by Indian and Pakistani forces.
Not only were the flight operation suspended in the northern part of the country but Pakistan’s airspace was also restricted for foreign airlines for security purposes, which ultimately caused losses to the country and inconvenience to passengers.
Domestic and International Flight Operations
In 2018-19, the number of flights from different airlines operated from Pakistan was recorded at 182,545 –including 97,109 domestic flights, 80,105 international flights, and 5,331 non-commercial or chartered flights.
In 2017-18, the total number of domestic and international flights were recorded at 238,049 – including 95,095 domestic flights, 218,616 international flights, and 19,433 non-commercial or chartered flights.
Passengers of Local and International Flights
The number of passengers traveling to and from Pakistan also declined to 19.9 million during the same period—including 6 million passengers of domestic flights and 13.9 million from international flights.
In the previous year, the number of passengers traveling to and from Pakistan was registered at 22.9 million—including 7.3 million passengers from domestic flights and 13.9 million passengers from international flights.
The decline in flight operations and the number of passengers also reduced the income of the country on account of tax and non-tax income that is usually charged as GST, Airport Tax, Aeronautical, Non-Aeronautical charges, etc.
The situation between Pakistan and India has normalized but will remain uncertain due to the Kashmir issue. However, international aviation laws provide safety of operations to customers and airlines.
In 2019, British Airways resumed its flight operations in Pakistan after a 10-year gap. It marked a new era, with Pakistan witnessing the arrival of new airlines from different countries including France, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Japan, etc, which are planning to start their flight operations in Pakistan. Similarly, it is expected that local airlines like AirSial will kick start their operations next year.
Current foreign and domestic airlines are also planning to add new destinations and increasing the number of flights to different cities particularly in tourist and commercial cities. The international and domestic air traffic and passengers are likely to see a handsome growth in 2020.