By Wajahat Islam Dossa
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the national carrier of Pakistan, has long been a symbol of national pride and connectivity. However, recent developments regarding fares, services, and operational decisions have raised serious concerns. Particularly, the exorbitant fares on flights from Gilgit/Skardu to Islamabad/Karachi, combined with inconvenient connecting flights, reflect a disheartening disregard for the economic realities and limitations faced by the people of Gilgit Baltistan. This article aims to shed light on the unjust practices of PIA and the negative implications they have for the region.
The fares for PIA flights from Gilgit/Skardu to Islamabad/Karachi have reached unprecedented levels, disproportionate to the time, distance, and quality of service provided by the airline. It is astonishing that these fares exceed those for flights from Karachi to Dubai, which is an international route with considerably greater distance and operational costs. PIA’s exorbitant pricing not only places an undue burden on the passengers but also contradicts the airline’s responsibility to serve the people of Pakistan.
Adding insult to injury, PIA recently announced its direct operation from Skardu to Karachi. However, instead of offering a true direct flight, the airline continues to subject passengers to the inconvenience of a connecting flight through Islamabad. This unnecessarily elongates the travel time to a staggering 9 hours, while one can reach destinations like Gambia or Turkey in a direct flight within the same duration. PIA’s decision to prioritize routing through Islamabad, despite the availability of a direct option, showcases a lack of consideration for the comfort and convenience of its customers.
Neglecting the Economic Status of Gilgit Baltistan:
Gilgit Baltistan is a region known for its breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural heritage. However, it is also characterized by economic limitations and a comparatively low-income population. PIA’s pricing strategy fails to acknowledge the economic disparities faced by the people of this region, effectively rendering air travel unaffordable for many. This perpetuates a sense of exclusion and highlights the airline’s failure to fulfill its social responsibility towards the people it should serve.
Call for Reform
It is essential for PIA to reassess its fares, services, and operational decisions, particularly in regions like Gilgit Baltistan. The national carrier should strive to make air travel accessible and affordable for all citizens, regardless of their economic background. This can be achieved through measures such as revised pricing models, increased efficiency in routing, and improved connectivity options. PIA must understand that its purpose extends beyond mere profitability and should align with the well-being and aspirations of the Pakistani people.
The unjust practices of PIA, particularly regarding fares, services, and operational decisions, have left the people of Gilgit Baltistan feeling neglected and excluded. Skyrocketing fares, inconvenient connecting flights, and a lack of consideration for economic disparities reflect a disregard for the airline’s responsibility towards its customers. PIA must urgently address these concerns and work towards providing affordable, convenient, and efficient air travel options for all citizens. Only through such reforms can PIA reclaim its position as a national carrier that truly serves the people of Pakistan.