LONDON: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has given seven of its landing slots at London’s Heathrow Airport — one of the world’s most important and busiest airports — to two foreign airlines.
According to the details, PIA allowed six flight slots at the London Heathrow Airport to Turkish Airlines, while it gave one slot to Kuwait Airways for a period of six months. After the ban on PIA flights by the European Union, PIA has entered into an agreement with foreign airlines for landing slots at London’s Heathrow Airport.
PIA’s CEO and Chief Commercial Officer are in Istanbul to finalise the deal and PIA’s slots will be secured once the deal is signed. According to sources, London Heathrow Airport had asked PIA to cancel its expensive landing slots as they were not being used due to the ban.
In order to secure its slots, the PIA management had started discussions with other airlines — the national carrier wanted to temporarily transfer its minimum mandatory 7 slots to other airlines.
Cancellation of flight slots would have affected PIA’s future operations at London’s Heathrow Airport and forced the airline to move to second-tier airports Gatwick or Luton. According to the PIA spokesperson, Heathrow Airport slots are of great importance to PIA and it was crucial to make them operational through babysitting. “We have given them under the babysitting concept for six months and will get them back once the flight operation starts”.
He further said that Aviation Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique was personally monitoring the matter. The European Union and British authorities had banned all Pakistani airlines, including PIA, on the pilot license issue. The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority has not been able to satisfy the European and British authorities despite the passage of two and a half years.