Times, 18 Nov. 2007
Airblue will start its major flight expansion programme from July
2009 onward after receiving the recently ordered aircraft, said
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Chief Operation Officer (COO), Airblue.
government has granted us permission to operate flights for Jordan,
Qatar and Kuwait, Mr. Abbasi said in an interview to the Daily
Times here Saturday. Briefing Airblues future strategy, Mr
Abbasi said that the biggest private airline of the country has
contracted to purchase 14 advanced A-320 aircrafts with the investment
of $910 million aimed to expand business (flight operations) on
international and domestic routes.
will be the second biggest investment in aviation industry of the
country after PIAs deal with Boeing to purchase eight 777-aircraft
at a cost at $1.2 billion, he claimed. According to the Airblue
chief, the revenue of private national airlines is equal to one-sixth
revenue of Pakistan International Airlines. I estimated that
Airblue will grow its revenue from $250 million to $400 million
in the current fiscal year, he said.
referring to the population growth of the country and traveling
of foreigners in the country, he said that countrys airlines
should posses at least 150 advanced aircraft to facilitate its passenger,
but, unfortunately it has nearly 60 aircraft and most of them are
not advanced and cost-efficient. You have to buildup capacity
in order to make flourishing and healthy aviation industry because
whenever the new airline emerges in the market, the volume of growth
marks a significant change, Mr Abbasi elaborated.
said aviation industry is one of the highly competitive sectors
in the world whereby establishing airlines companies are the most
risky in nature and needs huge investment. In developing country
like Pakistan, running airlines business profitably is a challenge
as many private airlines have failed to survive in a short period
chief observed that there is a big potential and handsome business
opportunities for national airlines in the global aviation industry.
But, he pointed out that establishing an airline company is highly
risky task and needs a strong financial backing. He said with the
entry of Airblue the countrys aviation industry witnessed
30 percent growth just in the first year. Now, the growth of aviation
industry stands at 10 to 11 percent per annum with major contribution
carried out its first flight on June 18, 2004 on the domestic routes.
It is now operating four international flights on daily basis and
more than 20 nationwide flights weekly with its six aircraft in
operation. Since its establishment, Airblue has made market of more
than 1.2 million passengers in the country, Abbasi claimed.
lauded the role of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for facilitating
private airline companies and emphasized to formulate new Aviation
Policy to strengthen the markets competition among the
international and national airlines. In his views, the aviation
is a service industry so an airline company needs to maintain its
standards among the passengers in order to compete with other national
and international airlines. There is no problem for any new entrant
airlines but customers definitely avail the benefits from competition,
he explained. On the other hand, he stressed that the role of aviation
regulator should be limited in the open skies market. Fares
are dictated by the market forces and if any restriction is imposed
on airlines regarding fares and freight matters, it will collapse
the market, the Airblue COO observed. Airblue will start its
domestic flights on the routes of Sialkot and Multan by next year
and it has set the target to initiate flight operations on daily
basis on the other domestic routes like Quetta, Islamabad, Lahore
who is also former chairman of PIA, expressed his wish to make contribution
in the Hajj flights services throughout the country and claimed
that Airblue has enough capabilities to run Hajj flights operations
better than PIA.
urged the government to promote tourism in the country, which will
indirectly benefit the aviation industry as well passengers.
far as surging airfares are concern, he pointed out that the prices
of air fuel in the global market has compelled airlines companies
to increase their fares with a proportion keeping the markets
dynamics of supply and demand. When we (Airblue) started our
airline we were purchasing Jet-fuel at Rs 16 per liter but now we
are buying the same fuel at Rs 51 per liter, he said adding
we could not pass on the entire burden of price surge to our
passengers, but the problem is we cannot hedge oil at this stage
as it is very risky as Airblue could not afford it. Regarding
human resource of the industry, Airblue COO said that Pakistan has
very limited human resource and the airlines companies had to train
them through massive investment. Pilots are very few in number
and they are trained from foreign country, where as ground engineers,
cabin crew have also been prepared by Airblue itself at very high
cost, he added.