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PIA Suffers Fuel Supply Disruption, Cancels 349 Flights in Two Weeks

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has been facing a severe fuel crisis that has forced it to cancel 349 flights in the last two weeks, affecting both domestic and international routes. The national flag carrier said on Thursday that the flight cancellations since Oct 14 were due to a shortage of fuel supplies from Pakistan State Oil company (PSO), which has suspended its credit line for the airline and is now releasing fuel only against a daily advance payment.

The airline said it was trying to manage funds to resume its normal operations, but the situation was uncertain and depended on the availability of funds and fuel. It said it was rescheduling flights on a daily basis and keeping passengers updated on flight schedules. It also said that Canada, Turkey, China, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia would be priority destinations when flights resumed.

The fuel crisis comes at a time when PIA is already struggling with financial losses, liabilities and challenges. The airline has accumulated billions of dollars in losses and debts over the years, which the current caretaker government says it can no longer fund. The government has announced that it would privatize the airline as part of a fiscal discipline plan agreed under an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout in June.

PIA’s operations have also been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reduced travel demand and disrupted flight schedules. The airline has also faced regulatory issues and bans from several countries over safety and licensing concerns. PIA flights to Europe and the UK have been suspended since 2020 after the European Union’s Aviation Safety Agency revoked the national carrier’s authorization to fly to the bloc following a pilot license scandal.

The airline has been trying to improve its performance and reputation by introducing new initiatives and measures, such as launching direct flights to the US, upgrading its fleet and services, enhancing its safety standards and procedures, and offering discounts and incentives to passengers. However, these efforts have been overshadowed by the ongoing fuel crisis, which has tarnished the airline’s image and credibility.

The fuel crisis has also sparked criticism and outrage from various stakeholders, including passengers, employees, civil society groups and political parties. They have blamed both PIA and PSO for mismanagement, corruption and inefficiency, and demanded an immediate resolution of the issue. They have also called for accountability and transparency in the airline’s affairs and urged the government to take steps to save the national asset from collapse.

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