Mr Musharaf Sial
CEO. Pakistan International Airlines
SUBJECT: AIR FARES TO GILGIT BALTISTAN
Dear Mr Musharaf Sial,
It was a pleasure meeting you a couple of times in Islamabad, regarding some issues of Gilgit/ Baltistan.You are trying very hard to stabilize the Airlines, which is in a nose dive.
The first Chairman of PIA was my Uncle Late Air Marshal Asghar Khan when PIA was in its peek; he was also Head of Tourism. This was a Golden Era in the History of PIA, when Emirates, Singapore and some other Airlines were established, by a team of experts. The Air Hostess Uniforms were designed by Pierre Cardin, who flew to Karachi and took personal interest.
I have been coming to this office this office since the past twenty years, I am surprised, I do not see even a single picture of Late Air Marsahl Asghar khan, in the Hall Way. The man who made the Air Force.
Now I want to put very serious issues in front of you.
I had discussed some points with you, when we met, but no action has been taken place yet, maybe it is not a priority.
The first question is; why have the Air Fares been increased so drastically specially for the difficult areas of Gilgit and Baltistan.
Do we want Tourism to increase or want it to nose dive also. Since you have increased the Airfare, seats are not available for a week and if a flight is cancelled due to weather or any technical fault. Extra Section should be put the following day, REASON.
Bookings are done in advance from the major cities of Pakistan and from Foreign Countries, plans to go to the mountains. The flight cancels. What do they do the next day; the flight for the following flight is booked in advance. Coming from Karachi or Lahore for a family trip in the holidays.
They are stuck confused and curse the Airline and PIA has lost a plane load of people that was revenue for PIA. Serious note has to be taken on this issue; some go by road and have to pay average Rs 5000 per person whether it is a Toyota Corolla, Hi-Ace or Coaster, reaches the next day.
Similarly flight cancel’s and people get stuck at Skardu, what do they do, cannot get a seat for a week.
People are getting scared, do not travel to these areas, word around is you will get stuck.Shangrila had two groups Bank Alfalah and Bank of Punjab, made reservations for August, both cancelled out as the airfare was too high. So one decided to go to Malaysia and the other one to Turkey.
Once the Gilgit Skardu road is through, seventy percent of the people will travel by road.
The season is four months in a year and in this period, seats are not available, or the rates are too high. Now I will come to the reality:
The airfare Economy Plus return fluctuates is around Rs 40,000 plus for one person, mostly families travel. If there is a family of five persons. Three adults Rs 120,000 and two kids, Rs 60,000. Total amount Rs 180,000.On a 35 minute flight from ISL to KDU return. Mostly the families’ are from Karachi and Lahore. Air Fare from Karachi is separate.
I am giving you examples of the following routes by different Airlines for comparison. Sometime wonder who is doing the costing?
PIA ISL –DUBAI.FLIGHT TIME 3 HOURS 20 MINUTES. FARE RETURN RS 33,630/ PER PERSON.
EMIRATES ISL- DUBAI. FLIGHT TIME 2 HOURS 10 MINUTES. FARE RETURN RS 35,400/ PER PERSON.
PIA ISL-KHI- KUALA LUMPUR. FLIGHT TIME.FIVE HOURS.FARE 71,125/ PER PERSON.
PIA ISL –KHI-BANGKOK.FLIGHT TIME FIVE HOURS 45 MINUTES. FARE. RS 55,340/ PER PERSON.
THAI AIR. ISL-BANGKOK.FLIGHT TIME FOUR HOURS 10 MINUTES. FARE. RS 72126/ PER PERSON.
TURKISH AIRLINES. ISL –ISTANBUL.FLIGHT TIME FOUR HOURS. FARE.RS 56532/-PER PERSON.
I WOULD LIKE TO NO WHY SHOULDN’T PEOPLE FLY TO THESE COUNTRIES.
IF YOU TAKE OUT THE AVERAGE PER HOUR COST FOR THE PASSENGER NOT THE AIRLINES COMES TO ROUGHLY RS 14,225/-
If we want an increase in Tourism we have to do more and look at the long run benefits, not to scare a potential client.
I have also been Chairman Pakistan Tourism in 1999, in a short stint of one year, brought in three month visa policy on arrival, and started Metro Cab for Security of Passengers.
It looks lengthy but is worth considering.
Arif Aslam Khan
Shangrila Resort Hotels