PAKISTANI CARRIER Bhoja Air, is close to establishing the country's first commuter network, with negotiations to acquire three 50- to 60-seat turboprop aircraft about to be completed, says deputy managing director Syed Hasan.

Bhoja Air proposes to base the aircraft in the Punjab and to develop much-needed air links between the major centres, such as Faisalabad, Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Peshawa and Sukkur, and the rural communities.

Restarting operations on 5 July 1995, after halting services the previous year, the airline now operates three Yakovlev Yak-42Ds on wet lease from Lithuanian Airlines on a small network linking Karachi, Lahore and Quetta. It is looking to replace the Yak-42Ds shortly with either Boeing 737-200s or 727s.

In the longer term, Hasan says that the airline wants to introduce passenger services to the Gulf, and cargo flights to Europe, the latter with an Ilyushin Il-76. Bhoja Air will have to prove to the authorities its financial and operational fitness, however, before being allowed an international licence alongside flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines.

Bhoja Air is owned by the Bhoja Group, whose, activities include shipping, dredging and the coconut trade.

Source: Flight International