Pakistan International Airlines ( PIA, IATA : PK ) has signed an MoU with Turkish Airlines ( IATA : TK ) in a move that will signal a strategic change in the airline’s direction. Under the new deal, pending government approval, PIA will stop a range of its unprofitable routes to the US and the EU, and instead funnel the traffic through TK’s Istanbul hub. The routes to be ended include New York and Chicago.
Not much is known about the partnership at this stage, nor does whether it includes any revenue sharing. However, PIA MD Capt. Aijaz Haroon, in an interview with Khaleej Times had stated that the two airlines will cooperate and funnel the traffic to West via Istanbul and to the East via Karachi.
As per the interview, PIA will drop certain unprofitable routes, including New York JFK and Chicago. Turkish will codeshare on PIA’s flights to certain destinations out of Karachi, including Colombo and Dhaka.
PIA was once one of South Asia’s leading airlines and first launched its flights to New York in 1961. However, later competition from the rising Gulf carriers and political issues have seen the once prestigious carrier fall into an organization reliant on government funds.
PIA was the launch customer for the Boeing 777-200LR and currently operates two of the type along with four -200ERs and -300ERs. However, security restrictions from the USA mean the carrier is forced to make an stop ( currently at Manchester ) on the way to USA.
The carrier’s flights to Toronto – on which it is reportedly achieving very good loads ( with UAE carriers not getting extra flights into Canada ), will not be affected. But some of PIA’s unprofitable European stations are believed will be scrapped. Although it has been rumoured that PIA will resume service to Houston this is yet to be confirmed.
PIA and TK are expected to operate 21 weekly flights between Istanbul and Karachi, with PIA operating 14 out of 21.