The PIA management is strangely optimistic of overturning the national carrier’s extensive deficit, and has promised an improvement in its fortunes in 2015 by adding five additional ATR-72 aircraft to meet domestic route requirements. While revamping its fleet is central to making the airline more sustainable, what makes the PIA management’s hopefulness unfathomable is the fact that the cost-cutting methods used by PIA involve closing down various international routes, and investing instead in domestic routes that attract a regular inflow of customers, leasing more planes, with and without personnel in various bids, and setting up training centers across to country to have more flight engineers in its ranks of employees. With over 17000 employees and five new planes added to the fleet on wet leases (with crew, pilots etc) just last month, the last initiative tells us that the management is still actively adding to the airline’s miseries, and not making the harder decisions to save PIA from falling even further.

Loss-making international routes are indeed a major burden on the state’s finances, but the fact remains that PIA lost out to other airlines on international routes purely because of compromising on its quality standards and frequent delays. Downsizing the business was only made mandatory because PIA rode the wave of past glories for far too long. People selected to lead PIA’s management were not held accountable for their failings, and employees got paid for doing nothing. As more and more routes are being slashed to decrease costs, we must ask what comes next. If an airline works as it is supposed to, international routes are generally more lucrative than domestic ones, which means that PIA is burning all of its bridges in order to stay afloat in the short run. Staying afloat is also relative in this context, considering that the government is still pumping in large sums of money to keep it running.

It is clear that the current management cannot do much more to stop PIA from sinking. Since the elections of May 2013, the government has been making promises of selling 26 percent shares of the national carrier to private investors who will take over management, and do all that is necessary to make the airline self-sustainable. Every month or so, reports surface of the government finally engaging in talks with private firms to oversee the sale, but nothing ever materializes. The first half of the year was touted as a successful time for PIA by its management simply because they managed to bring its losses down to Rs. 10 billion. How much more of this can we ignore?