LAHORE - The PIA management is spending millions of rupees on acquiring more than 10 aircraft on wet lease, but is least interested in making its five grounded aircraft operational, said well-placed sources in the airlines’ engineering department.

A senior officer of the engineering department said on the condition of anonymity that out of five grounded aircraft, two are A-310 and two ATRs while one is B-747. He said the first ATR was grounded on April 6, 2014.

Speaking about the technical faults of the grounded aircraft, the engineer said B-747 has completed its cycle life and modification in that aircraft was required, two ATRs are running short of engines while A-310 is facing shortage of spare parts.

He said all these aircraft could be made airworthy by spending very small amount on maintenance as compared to the amount being spent on acquiring 10 aircraft on wet or dry lease.

The airlines’ above-mentioned aircraft have been grounded since long. Besides, 22 more aircraft have been scheduled for regular checking and maintenance on November 5, 2015.

The sources said the management of Pakistan International Airlines has failed to make its engineering and maintenance department potential as the number of grounded aircraft has been increasing since long, depriving the airline of possible earning source in a very competitive aviation environment.

The sources said the management has failed to respond to the call of the day to modernise its significant department and meet the demand of cost-conscious aviation industry. Despite having recently acquired Airbus A 320s and ATR aircraft on lease to relieve pressure on the fleet, around two to three aircraft will come in and out for maintenance on daily basis.

They also revealed Engineering & Maintenance Schedules Planning Department has damaged its position severely due to frequent technical faults developed in its aircraft depicting inadequate maintenance that some circles allege was being done to create justification for further lease of aircraft.

The sources said following flights got recently late in just one day: PK 306, Karachi-Lahore, PK 241, Karachi-Dammam, PK 521, Karachi-Dalbandeen, PK 653, Islamabad-Lahore, and PK 683 Lahore-Multan.

Moreover, PK-368, Karachi-Islamabad and PK 373, Islamabad-Karachi, were cancelled. It is pertinent to mention that technical faults and check-ups have become the main reasons for flight cancellations and delays.

The sources said aircraft types with their registration numbers that have been scheduled for maintenance from November 5, 2015, are B-772, BGK, B-777, BGY, A-310, BGO, A-310, BEQ, ATR-5, BHN, ATR-5, BHP, A-320, BLD, ATR-7, BKW, A-320, BLU, ATR-7, BKX, B-772, BGJ, A-310, BEG, ATR-7, BKZ, ATR-7, BKV, A-320, BLA, ATR-7, BKY, ATR-5, BHM, B-772, BGL, A-31L, BGP, A-320, BLW, ATR-7, BKX, ATR-5, BHI, B-772, BGJ, B-772, BGK, A-320, BLS, B-773, BID, A-320, BLB and ATR-5, BHO.

When contacted, PIA spokesman said B 747’s cycle life is over. “Its operational cost will be more than the cost of a new plane. Two A-310 and two ATRs have been grounded for routine checking,” the spokesman said.

However, the information gathered by The Nation revealed that an Airbus A-310 bearing registration number AP-BEU was grounded more than 10 months back and now it was not in the check list of PIA engineering department. Another A-310 bearing registration number BEQ was grounded on September 8, 2015 and its planned date of re-induction in the fleet was September 30, 2015, but could not be made operational for unknown reasons. Now November 20, 2015, is revised date for the same aircraft. Two ATR-5 bearing registration numbers BHN and BHP were grounded on April 6, 2014 and June 14, 2015, respectively. Both were supposed to be airworthy on April 30, 2014, and July 10, 2015, but they are still grounded and new date has been given as November 30, 2015, and November 30, 2015. Sources in the airlines said these aircraft will not be inducted in the fleet for the reasons best known to the airlines’ management.