KARACHI: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has posted a gross loss of Rs3.6 billion and operating losses of Rs5.4 billion during the period from January to March due to an “extremely challenging environment on account of COVID-19 in Pakistan and abroad”.

It was assumed that after the introduction of the vaccine, operations will start to normalise by March this year, but due to the 3rd wave and strict tighter restrictions, PIA’s routes, including Saudi Arabia, Gulf, Malaysia, and the UK, suffered, said its quarterly report issued on Thursday.

According to PIA, it has lost its “key Umrah season due to restrictions” imposed by the Saudi government. “We are hopeful that the support of our customers, dedication of our employees, and continued support of the government of Pakistan, we will emerge stronger for the better time ahead,” CEO Arshad Malik said.

The PIA quarterly report said that the COVID-19 pandemic delivered a big “shock to air travel and the aviation industry since World War II”.

“Previously, the adverse impacts on aviation of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the 2007-08 global financial crisis were thought dramatic. But neither had an impact that compares with a massive decline in global Revenue Passenger kilometers (RPKs).”

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) stated in its financial outlook that the financial performance will be worse and more varied in 2021 because of difficulties in controlling the virus variants and slower vaccination in some regions.

Weaker start to the year for passenger business due to surge in virus cases and travel restrictions, and vaccination delays has lowered global RPKs forecast.

However, cargo remains a very strong business for airlines in 2021, the strong economy and restocking driving and increase in share of world trade. Costs remain a challenge to airlines trying to stop cash burn in 2021.


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