News, 8 Jan 2008.
The number of domestic passengers who preferred travelling in private
airline Airblue has grown whereas the national flag carrier Pakistan
International Airlines (PIA) is losing its popularity, data compiled
by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) revealed.
to provisional aviation statistics for the year 2006-07, Airblue
carried 1.4 million passengers in 2006-07, up around 7.7 per cent
from previous years 1.3 million it carried between different
cities of Pakistan. The PIA, faced with accumulated losses of more
than Rs35 billion, lost domestic market share by 5.7 per cent as
it carried five million passengers compared to 5.3 million during
the period under review. Airblue has capitalised on Aero Asia
clientele, said an industry official. The market lost
by Aero Asia in the last couple of years has been taken over by
more than a decade of successful operations, Aero Asia was barred
from flying by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in May last year
owing to safety concerns. Aero Asia carried more than one million
passengers in fiscal 2004-05 but the number shrank to 756,308 in
the following year and dropped to 278,900 in 2006-07. In contrast,
Airblue, which started with only 22,320 passengers in 2003-04, carried
1.4 million passengers in the last fiscal year.
PIA has suffered from a very bad punctuality record in the last
couple of years, continued the official who requested not
to be named. This irregularity and financial woes of PIA have
also worked to the advantage of Airblue. The private carrier
has also emerged as a leader in introducing innovation in the aviation
industry of the country. It brought the self check-in facility at
its Karachis hub of Jinnah International Airport whereby passengers
with baggage obtain a boarding card through the touch screen menu
without needing to report to the counter.
concept of booking-first-to-get-the-lowest-fare has also contributed
to advance of Airblue in gaining the market share. PIA is now following
the suit and has adopted the same strategy. Airblue with its six
A320 and A321 aircraft was also able to ride the tide of rising
fuel cost, which bankrupted many airlines across the world.
Khaqan Abbasi, the Chief Executive Officer and the brain behind
the success of the private airline is confident that future fuel-related
price shocks would be sustained. We are in a phase of growth,
he told The News. With aggressive revenue management and increasing
the number of passengers we will make through this period.
However, he hinted that few cost elements would be passed on in
fares and others would be absorbed through operation of the aircraft
on profitable routes.
305,370 passengers travelled by Shaheen Air International (SAI)
in 2006-07 as compared to 55,670 in the previous year. On the international
front, PIA carried 3.59 million passengers in 2006-07, Airblue 237,170
and SAI 198,067. Except for the flag carrier, the two domestic airlines
have registered growth in previous year.