Why airfares raised ahead of Eid for both PIA and private airlines?

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PIA_Airfares_eid
Airfares rise on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr. PIA and other airlines jacked up the prices of air tickets ahead of Eid – source BBC Urdu.

If you have purchased a ticket of airlines to travel from Karachi to Lahore or Islamabad then you might have thought of traveling to Dubai, Singapore, China and many other destinations within the same expenses. The question is still there: Why are plane rentals so high? Why is it that the two-hour long flight is more expensive than international travelings despite the problems of halted domestic flight operations have been solved.

 

There have been discussions on social media regarding this topic for quite some time and many newspapers have been writing on the same issue. People are claiming that they had to pay 72,000PKR for a double-sided ticket of Islamabad to Karachi. While the ticket of Islamabad to London flight was available in just a hundred thousand rupees some days ago.

Here are some basic questions regarding this dramatic increase in the airfares

What are the basic reasons for this inflation?
How does the price regulatory system can work?
What can be done by the Civil Aviation Authority and the regulatory system?

Also see: Boeing 777 Of PIA Test Flies After Remaining Grounded For 1.5 Years

How will the situation be changed?

There is no maintenance of a balance between the demand and logistics among intranational flights of Pakistan.
The number of passengers exceeds the number of flights available to them. Last year, both the Shaheen Airlines and Airblue were fully operational in Ramadan and Eid but this year Shaheen Airline disappeared from the scene and Airblue stopped its domestic flight operations even before the start of Ramadan.

 

The question arises why Airblue stopped its operations and what steps are undertaken by CAA to deal with the situation? If we take a review of the situation then we come across the fact that both of these routes were used to carry out the 4 flights of Shaheen and Airblue. From this viewpoint, almost 1376 seats are less than the market demand on a daily basis and monthly decline is up to 41280. This is a huge number which is badly affecting the system of airfares. None of the airlines seems to be interested in solving that issue besides Pakistan International Airlines.

 

Instead of increasing the number of flights PIA started using its more spacious Boeing 777 than A320 planes. But this arrangement can’t be an alternative to the cancellation of the other two flight operations that have been shunned. The airline companies suspect that due to hike in the price of the dollar against the rupee their expenses have been increased by 30 to 40 percent. These expenditures include the lease payment for planes and fuel costs.

Eid_AirBlue airline
Passengers are getting off from the flight of Air Blue. Air Blue stopped its flight operations ahead of Eid – photo source BBC Urdu.

 

How does the price control mechanism can work?

Airlines ticket system is based on the rule, “come first and get the low priced ticket”. It means if you purchase an air ticket for Karachi to Islamabad flight at the start of Ramadan than it will cost you half of the rental. The ticket becomes more and more expensive as the date of flight approaches. All cheaper tickets are sold out as the Eid days are nearer.

 

A BBC Urdu correspondent had checked the prices of tickets for Karachi to Islamabad flight on June 4 by 4:00pm. The tickets were available at 30,000PKR for PIA and Airblue. However, the same ticket will cost you the tax payment of 5715 rupees seven days later. Because flight operations for Shaheen Airlines and Airblue are suspended, the passengers who went to another airline website in search of cheaper tickets can’t opt for these two airline tickets.

 

Consequently, the low priced tickets of PIA and Serine airlines are also booked in a relatively shorter period of time than earlier. Although according to the new aviation policy by the government, the price of a ticket is reduced by an amount of 1000PKR. The government has also given some other provisions which might have reduced the airfares.

Boeing 777_PIA
A Boeing 777 aircraft at the Jinnah International Airport Karachi.

 

But the response of airliners was somewhat different and they viewed that the subsidy of 10000 rupees is no match for the flight expenses of millions of rupees mainly originated due to the rise of the dollar against the rupee. Similarly, the oil prices are falling in the global market but there is no visible change in Pakistan as fuel supplier companies also exploit the situation.

What is the function of Civil Aviation or regulatory system?

The civil aviation authority is not only a regulatory authority in Pakistan but also responsible to facilitate the flight operations. Although civil aviation authority has carved out a policy in collaboration with all airlines for the first time in the history of aviation, the policy is still waiting for implementation.

“We are here to provide the facilities. We have given operating licenses to more than 4 airlines. So many discounts have been given in the new policy but we can’t open the new businesses (to run the flight operations)”, a senior official of CAA said in response to a question on why CAA doesn’t take measures to meet the market demands.

The second question was that why PIA or private airlines don’t start new flight operations to fulfill the demands of market capacity. “Although Serine airline has 3 planes who are satisfying the demands and it is not possible for the airline to increase the number of flights with the available planes. It is not possible to purchase or lease new planes to fulfill the timely demands of passengers. New aircraft can only be leased if there’s persistent demand for it”, CAA official responded to another question asked by BBC.

 

PIA says that it is still confronted with the investigations for bringing the planes for premier service and secondly the PEPPA laws are so exhausting that it takes so long to have a plane on lease. During the months-long proceedings to abide by the PEPRA rules that the plane might have been leased to some other customer. This is why the planes couldn’t be acquired despite several advertisements in the past few months.

How will the situation be changed?

Firstly, the situation can only be changed when the Civil Aviation Authority will prioritize its regulatory duties and hand over the duties of providing facilities to competitive airline companies.

Secondly, aviation should be made a favorable business to attract even ordinary investors. The people who are competing for the aviation sector don’t get any chance to come forward and contribute in this sector. It is a commercial sector and must be driven commercially to operate in full swing.

Air traveling is a civilian part of the Pakistan air force. The matters of airline operations are subject to much more confidentiality than any other thing. You can carry a laptop charger on one flight but you’re restricted to do the same for the other flight. You can take your drone camera into a flight from Islamabad but when it comes to Quetta, it becomes a genuine issue.

Thirdly, it is more like a challenge to start a flight operation in Pakistan despite attaining the license to carry out flight operations.

Aerial photography in Pakistan

Aerial photography has now become a global trend but one can’t dare to show off one’s camera here in Pakistan.
Moreover, people from any background can show interest in this field(Arial photocopy) as it is considered a source of entertainment and lifestyle.

 

What are your views about the rise in the airfares this Eid? Leave your comments 

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