PIA says no decision yet to lease A320 aircraft

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LAHORE: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has not finalized acquiring any particular type of aircraft.

The tender has been floated for five narrow body aircraft with delivery of at least four aircraft in first and one in second quarter of 2013 to meet the capacity shortfall, the PIA spokesman stated here on Thursday.
He said that The News International story of December 6, 2012 by Moayyed Jafri has wrongly mentioned that the airline was considering to acquire A320 V2500 engine aircraft instead of B737-800.

The PIA received offers for both Airbus A320 and Boeing 737-800. However, A320 offers are larger in number as compared to Boeing 737-800. Presently, these offers are being evaluated and no final decision regarding induction of either narrow-body aircraft has been finalized.

The PIA spokesman categorically stated that regardless of the fact that PIA chooses the Boeing 737-800 with CFM56-7B or A320 with either CFM56-5B or V2500 engines, maintenance reserves will be charged by the Lessor. With reference to the maintenance of the aircraft all heavy checks will be carried out in-house as all aircraft will be registered in Pakistan and the amount spent on these checks will be reimbursed by the Lessor to Lessee (i.e. PIA) as such the PIA will be earning revenue contrary to the news item.

The News item suggesting that one engine is better than the other without carrying out a thorough evaluation of its technical specifications is uncalled for. It is like buying one model of a car because a similar make and model was in use before when clearly there are newer models of fuel-efficient hybrid cars available in the market, the PIA spokesman added.

It may be categorically understood that the tender for these aircraft has not been awarded and the evaluation process is still not complete. It is therefore premature to assume which aircraft or engine type will be inducted. Also such reports create undue bias for evaluators, which may not be in the best interest of the airline, “Quoting sources privy to the development revealed,” is also not correct attribution on matters of national importance and the scribe should have mentioned the right expert authority on aviation.

The PIA spokesman stated that journalistic ethics at the very least require some research to confirm or verify “facts” before printing tabloid rumours as news reports. The PIA management will make available the tender documents and the process of this tender or any tender to anyone at the PIA head office.

For the first time in PIA’s history, Managing Director PIA, Muhammad Junaid Yunus invited Transparency International Pakistan to monitor the bidding process. In addition to TIP, representative of the Ministry of Defence, Employees’ Unions including SAEP were also present in the financial and technical bid opening process. The Corporation has taken TIP onboard the evaluation process of not just this tender but in fact all future tenders would be forwarded to TIP for scrutiny.

The spokesman said that Pakistan International Airlines under the new management has barely had few weeks in office however it has started a process of fleet modernization and revamping its entire service to turn around in shortest time period the ailing airline with its new business model. Already the airline has been in operating profit for the last two months (September-October 2012).

The PIA management’s immediate goal is to bring down the average age of PIAs fleet and improve reliability and punctuality by on time departures and arrivals along with providing world class customer service to the valuable passengers.

Furthermore, fuel costs are taking a 55% toll on the airlines revenue. Newer aircraft provide fuel savings up to 50% for a route flown as well as lower maintenance costs. PIA’s sixty three percent operation is on short haul routes, within four hours of flight time.

In pursuance of this policy PIA had floated tenders for leasing of narrow body aircraft. The airline like others is not going to purchase aircraft. PIA as per PPRA rules cannot specify manufacturer name of aircraft or engine. This was also a concern for TIP and therefore a broader criterion was adopted.

The PIA is following a clear point-based system where points are awarded based on fleet commonality and availability of present apparatus for overhaul of engines.

However should the airline just select on one criterion? Of course not! Especially with the rapid advances in technology in aviation what matters is the cost benefit analysis of these aircraft and therefore financial cost and availability of these aircraft also play an important role. The PIA cannot afford to wait years on end to suit the schedule of a particular vendor or manufacturer.

It is pertinent to mention that any further delay in the induction of new aircraft will result in the delay of the turn around of the airline, which was noted by the Board of Directors and Government Pakistan.

Moayyed Jafri adds: I stand by my story. The story published in this regard already mentions the stance taken by the PIA that the deal has not been finalized as yet. It is true that representatives from all relevant departments have been taken onboard for this deal and it was during these consultation sessions that, the PIA top management clearly expressed its intentions regarding A320 V2500, which had caused dissent in the concerned quarters of the PIA after it were shared by the MD PIA. The final results of this bid will prove the story itself. Yet the PIA’s stance of over anxiousness due to less time on hand is by no means a plausible excuse for over looking important factors just for speedy availability.

 

Courtesy: The News


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