Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has been compelled to cancel 14 international and domestic flights due to a severe fuel shortage. The crisis erupted after the state-owned Pakistan State Oil (PSO) ceased its fuel supply to PIA over unpaid dues. This latest setback places PIA, the national carrier of Pakistan, in a precarious financial position, with the government’s decision to privatize the struggling enterprise exacerbating the situation.
The airline, burdened with accumulated losses and arrears running into the billions, now faces the looming specter of default, as the government declined PIA’s request for a substantial infusion of Rs 23 billion ($76 million) to cover operational expenses.
This tumultuous episode underscores the growing challenges faced by PIA, which requires Rs 100 million a day to procure fuel from PSO. The fuel supply cancellation has already led to a significant disruption in flight operations, forcing PIA to proactively cancel 14 flights due to the fuel scarcity. The situation remains highly precarious as PSO now demands advance cash payments, signaling that more flight cancellations may be imminent in the coming days due to the airline’s inability to meet these demands.
What further compounds the airline’s difficulties is the government’s recent decision to privatize PIA, while simultaneously withdrawing interim support to maintain its operations.