Tuesday, March 2, 2010

PIA - Pakistan

PIA of Pakistan
has officially confirmed that it will be launching new flights to Chicago, Kuala Lumpur and Guangzhou (CAN), China from the on set of the IATA Summer 2010 timetable along with capacity increases on other routes. Flights to Chicago will be launched twice a week via Barcelona using a Boeing 777-200ER from June 4th. It shall be flown once a week from Lahore and Karachi respectively with 5th freedom rights available on the BCN-ORD-BCN sector. The main highlights of PK's Summer schedule are as follows:

LHE/DAC/CAN - two new weekly flights to be flown using an A 310-300. Flight schedule as per PK's website is as follows:

Days of operation - MON/WED

PK 854 Dep LHE 1100 Arr DAC 1440 // Dep DAC 1640 Arr CAN 2210
PK 855 Dep CAN 2355 Arr DAC 0135+1 // Dep DAC 0435 Arr LHE 0525

LHE/KUL - once a week nonstop fights using an A 310-300.

LHE/DXB - capacity reduced from daily B 772ERs to 5 weekly A 310s + 2 weekly B 772ERs.

LHE/BCN - frequencies increased from 1 to 2 weekly flights using a B 772ER.

KHI/DAC - capacity reduced to 5 weekly A 310s.

- double daily nonstop flights to reinstated using an A 310-300 for all services.

- frequencies increased from 1 to 2 weekly flights using a B 772ER.

- capacity increased from one weekly B 773ER to one weekly B 743.

- capacity increased from 2 weekly B 737-300s to 2 weekly A 310-300s.


It is very commendable to see PIA take the initiative to launch flights to the Middle East from a secondary airport like Sialkot which shall please the local business community as the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce had invested US$ 101 million to rebuild the airport to provide better services to interested airlines. However, what is extremely disheartening to see is how PIA has planned out its return to ORD-Chicago. To begin with, there is no need what so ever for PIA to fly to ORD because these 2 flights should be instead flown to JFK-New York where the demand and market size is 4 times larger and PIA already has a reputation in that market segment where as in ORD, it has to rebuild it for which creative marketing and sales strategies are required of which PIA has no clue on how to formulate as was evident with their previous disastrous Chicago, Houston and Washington DC experiments! In addition, the biggest market to ORD is from KHI and not Northern Pakistan so why would any 'smart passenger' want to fly PIA once a week with 2 stops en-route to ORD when they can do in a more convenient manner flying Etihad on a daily basis via AUH.

What will PIA do if Emirates launches its own daily DXB-ORD nonstop flights using a B 77W from this October onwards and maybe next year Qatar Airways as well from DOH using the same aircraft type. These two airlines are the primary reason why PIA has seen its market share evaporate in Europe and USA and the same fate will fall upon itself at ORD in a matter of 2 years!

Lastly, based upon my own personal experience in 2004 flying KWI-AMS-ORD on Kuwait Airways, even for an 'air side transit' at any EU airport, Pakistani passport holders not having a U.S. green card require a transit visa for EU even if its a same plane service. If this rule still exists, then it will be a huge setback for PIA to attract normal Pakistani citizens holding only visit visas for USA to fly them versus another airline. To summarize, PIA must first consolidate its presence at JFK before further expanding its USA operations. If someone thinks they will do fine because they got 5th freedom rights on the Barcelona-Chicago route which sees them having a monopoly, then they should look at how badly PIA marketed and sold its Manchester-USA-Manchester flights when it had such traffic rights for JFK, Chicago and Houston few years ago!

1 comment:

Imran Gilani said...

I live in New York and totally agree that PIA should consolidate at JFK route first. I personally prefere and know that most Paksitanis prefer to fly PIA than Etihad or other airline provided they get competitive fare and more flights.

It does not make any sense to bypass a very demanding route like JFK and market a new one with not just one but two flights to Chicago especially when they failed before. We need more flights from JFK.