LAHORE - New domestic airlines, which obtained licences in recent past, are unlikely to start operations in the country due to strict aviation policy and heavy taxes, says a senior CAA official.

He said that six new private airlines had applied to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for regular public transport (RPT) licences and they were likely to start flight operations in the first half of this year.

These airlines are Liberty Air owned by Chaudhry Munir and Mian Amir; Go Green Airways owned by Elahi Group, Danish Elahi and Arshad Jalil; Askari Air Pakistan owned by Army Welfare Trust (AWT); United Airways Pakistan Limited owned by Adnan Tabbni; Air Sial owned by the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Afeef Zara Airways owned by Rashid Siddiqui. Of these airlines, Air SiaI, Askari, Go Green, Bhoja air under the new name and Afeef Zara were likely to launch air operations in the first half of 2018 or not later than October but time has gone but operation is in sight.

An aviation expert said had these airlines started operations, it would have been a good omen for the aviation industry. A good number of jobs was supposed to be created but ironically it could not happen. The federal government should revise its aviation policy 2015 as heavy taxes have been levied on the airlines in the new policy and the paid-up capital requirement has been increased from Rs100 million to Rs500 million. The import duties for parts and engineering facilities are not being ended or reduced to make things competitive with other countries and promote maintenance/overhaul facilities in the country, he said.

The PIA has lost its business due to poor aviation policy and other factors as the national flag carrier’s share over the years in the international market has dropped from 49 percent to 20 to 23 percent. PIA has also reduced its international destinations from 50 to 20 due to poor load of passengers.

The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority has received an application for issuance of a regular public transport (RPT) airline license from Afeef Zara Airways. The website of Afeef Zara Airways displays a picture of the sky with the caption ‘Come fly your dream’.

Due to poor aviation policies, the second largest international airline, Shaheen Air International, had to close its flight operation few months back in the country. Its leasers have all 18 airplanes including A-320 and A-330 transported back and parked in Sharjah and Istanbul. Few have been deregistered while others are yet to be deregistered. Owners of the airlines, two brothers, had flown to Dubai about three months back. The apparent asset of the airline was its routes and more hidden assets would surface after audit of the airline.

Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Javed Sehbai has expressed his will to run the airline and pay dues of CAA and salaries of the employees.