Iran closes its airspace for PIA due to payment backlog

PIA officials said the ban may affect the shorter route for flights carrying returning Hajis from Saudi Arabia via Iranian airspace.

Last Updated: Nov 09, 2011, 16:47 PM IST

Karachi: Iran has shut its airspace for
Pakistani aircrafts over a USD 600,000 backlog of payments
that may force flights of the national airline PIA to take the
longer route in bringing Hajj pilgrims back from Saudi Arabia,
incurring increased costs in the process.

A senior official for the Pakistan International Airlines
(PIA) confirmed that Iran has shut its airspace to its
aircraft due to a six-month backlog in transit payments
amounting to around USD 600,000.

"We are hopeful that the matter would be resolved soon
with the help of the government but we are also making
arrangements to clear some of the payments," an airline
official said.

The airlines which is a state-owned corporation that comes
under the Ministry of Defence has in the last three years
suffered losses of billions of rupees leading financial and
political analysts to describe it as a "white elephant" for
the government.

Insiders in the airlines say PIA is running into losses
simply because appointments at every level are made on
political connections and the corporation is overstaffed.
PIA officials said the ban may affect the shorter route
for flights carrying returning Hajis from Saudi Arabia via
Iranian airspace.

The flights, the first of which are expected to start
tomorrow, would have to take a longer and slightly expensive
route over Oman.

In the past, European Union countries have also banned PIA
flights from their airspace due to different issues like
safety standards of the aircrafts used by the national
airlines.

PTI