Wednesday, February 13, 2008

PAK-UK open skies

Pakistan and UK signed a new bilateral treaty last week which culminated in the two sides agreeing to having OPEN SKIES from all Pakistani and British airports including Heathrow/Gatwick. Currently PIA and BA/VS/BMI could only fly up to 10 times a week to LHR/LGW from PAK and vice versa. Included in the new bilateral arrangement is the allowance for Pakistani carriers to carry 5th freedom traffic from UK to USA only 6 times a week where as UK carriers can fly via an intermediate point only 6 times a week to Pakistan carrying 5th freedom traffic.

Analysis :

One hopes that this open skies deal leads to BA returning to KHI either this year or next. Tentatively, they had planned to launch KHI via MCT 6 times a week with a B 772ER but then Ms Bhutto got killed and those plans were put on hold indefinitely due to the law and order situation deteriorating in the country. PIA too have a lot to gain with the additional LHR flight rights but finding slots at decent times is a major issue. Presently, slots after 6pm-7pm at LHR are only available for PIA to pursue which shouldn't be a problem as that would mean an afternoon departure from PAK, a late night departure from LHR to PAK which would arrive late morning back home which is ideal for O&D passengers. If open skies is allowed to be implemented immediately then at least for the peak summer season, PIA should have one extra weekly terminator flight flown nonstop from ISB/LHE/KHI each respectively to cope with demand during the busy period.

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