KARACHI: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Tuesday canceled 14 international and domestic flights due to fuel shortages after state-owned Pakistan State Oil (PSO) canceled supply over unpaid dues, a spokesman for the national carrier said.
The public enterprise, which the government has announced it will privatize, has accumulated hundreds of billions of rupees in losses and arrears, and is on the verge of default as the government has declined the airline’s request to provide Rs 23 billion ($76 million) in support for operational expenses. Last month, Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar directed officials to develop a restructuring plan aimed at enhancing the financial health of the airline.
Besides other financial needs for repairing parts and maintaining aircraft, the airline needs Rs100 million a day to pay for fuel from PSO, which canceled supply this week over Rs1.4 billion in unpaid dues.
Pakistan agreed to fiscal discipline plans as part of a $3 billion arrangement with the IMF, including the privatization of loss-making assets.
“The non-provision of fuel from PSO significantly affected flight operations on Monday, and we had to proactively cancel 14 flights [on Tuesday] due to fuel shortages,” PIA spokesperson Abdullah Khan told Arab News.
“PSO has ceased fuel supply due to payment issues. They now demand advance cash payments only,” Khan said, warning of more flight cancelations in the upcoming days as the airline could not pay for fuel in advance.
“The government has made the decision to privatize the airline, however it has withdrawn any interim support in the meantime to keep the airline afloat.”
A spokesperson for PSO said he would get back with comments for this story.
The flight suspensions come as PIA hopes to resume flights to the United Kingdom in the next two months.
The PIA flights to Europe and the UK have been suspended since 2020 after the European Union’s Aviation Safety Agency revoked the national carrier’s authorization to fly to the bloc following a pilot license scandal.