Pakistan’s national air carrier, PIA, confirmed it is in talks with Sri Lanka to take four wide-bodied planes on rent which it will use for its premium flights to London that PIA intends to start from August 14, officials told The Express Tribune.
In addition to the planes, PIA will also get the services of its accompanying crew.
After plans for the UK route were approved by its board of directors, the PIA management has been busy preparing for the flights. In this regard, talks were held with Sri Lanka to acquire four Airbus A330 aircraft in a phased manner, a PIA spokesperson said.
“PIA is in negotiations with Sri Lankan Airlines for the wet lease of four A-330 aircraft,” the airline’s spokesperson Danyal Gilani said in a statement.
“The aircraft will be operated for PIA by Sri Lankan crew and it will be based in London,” State Enterprise Development Minister Kabir Hashim had said earlier.
He added that Sri Lankan Airlines was about to conclude the deal with PIA.
“It [the planes] will fly to Islamabad and Lahore and we are also in talks to give them three more Airbus A330 planes,” he added.
Gillani said that PIA’s Chief Operating Officer Bernd Hildenbrand had led a high-level team to Sri Lanka recently to negotiate contracts for acquiring the planes. Hildenbrand returned to Lahore Thursday afternoon.
“These planes would primarily be used for PIA’s premier service which is being launched from August 14, 2016,” Gilani said confirming the premium flights.
Another official of PIA told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity that the premium flights will fly from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad and land at Heathrow in London. PIA, he said, aims to operate 10 premium flights a week on these routes.
The first of the three planes are expected to arrive in Pakistan in August while the remaining two planes will be inducted in the PIA fleet by February 2017, the official said. (Colombo Gazette)