Pakistan International Airlines said today that its weekly flight between Karachi and Mumbai was likely to be suspended from this month due to “commercial” considerations. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Spokesperson Danyal Gillani made it clear that the proposal to suspend the Karachi-Mumbai flight was under consideration because of commercial reasons and not due to heightened bilateral tensions.
Gillani told PTI that the airlines was “likely” to suspend flight operations on the Karachi-Mumbai route but a final decision on it was yet to be made. Though the PIA spokesperson said the decision had not been taken on the suspension of Karachi-Mumbai flight, a company associated with the flight operation told PTI in Mumbai that, “Pakistan International Airlines, in a communication to authorities concerned, has said that its Karachi-Mumbai flight will not be open for sale (bookings) from May 11.”
“Apart from the current situation (prevailing tension between India-Pakistan), the suspension of the service might be due to commercial reasons as well,” the official said. The national flag carrier of Pakistan operates the Karachi-Mumbai flight on Thursday.
The airline did not operate its service yesterday as well, the official said. However, the Pakistan airline had informed the relevant authorities about the non-operation of the service on May 4 in a communication last month, the official said.
Gillani said media reports claiming that the flights could be suspended to Mumbai because of tensions were not correct. “If any decision is made it will be purely for commercial reasons as there has been a decline in traffic on this route,” he said.
Gillani also asserted that PIA flights along the Lahore- New Delhi route will continue operations. The proposal to suspend the Karachi-Mumbai flight may have been made for commercial purposes, but deteriorating ties indirectly have affected traffic on the route.
Sources in the PIA said that the airlines was not getting enough traffic for the flights to Mumbai due to the toughening of the visa rules by the Indian High Commission.
The sources claimed that recently visas had been denied to official Pakistani sports contingents wanting to travel to India for international events.
“Recent flights have had low passenger count and it is becoming an additional burden on the airlines which is already facing a financial crisis,” he said.
The proposal to suspend the flight comes amid a strain in Indo-Pak ties following the beheading of two Indian soldiers by the Pakistan military in Jammu and Kashmir.
PIA was a profit making entity and earned more than Rs 2 billion in 2004 but after that it went into deficit and could not recover. Since 2013, when the current Nawaz Sharif government took over, the carrier has suffered more than Rs 100 billion in losses, according to officials.