Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) remains barred from operating service to the European Union and the United Kingdom through at least the end of August. To compensate, PIA is working with Turkish Airlines to create a new European gateway in Istanbul via an expanded codeshare agreement.
PIA Inks Expanded Codeshare Deal with Turkish Airlines
PIA and Turkish Airlines have been codeshare partners for years, though the codeshare agreement has been a disappointment in terms of utilization. But a new sense of urgency exists after the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) added Pakistan International Airlines to is airline blacklist after revelations that as many as 40% of the pilots in Pakistan may not have valid credentials.
Europe is shut off, but European traffic was the bread and butter of PIA’s business model. To address the issue, PIA has considered leasing its aircraft to a charter airline which would then operate flights on its behalf. The latest proposal would see Istanbul becoming the European gateway for Pakistan, with PIA serving Istanbul and placings its passengers on Turkish Airlines between Istanbul and Western Europe. Codeshare destinations would include:
- Barcelona (BCN)
- Birmingham (BHX)
- Copenhagen (CPH)
- London (LHR)
- Milan (MXP)
- Oslo (OSL)
Turkish Airlines CEO Bilal Eksi addressed the new codeshare agreement:
“Considering the networks of both airlines, we see that the volume and utilization of our agreements have been lower than our expectations. I believe that our cooperation could be developed to reach a more satisfying level with the addition of your proposed Birmingham, London, Milan, Barcelona, Copenhagen and Oslo points on our codeshare subject to related Civil Aviation Authorities` beyond codeshare approvals.”
What this cooperation might look like beyond simply codesharing remains to be seen.
PIA Also Pursues Deals With Pegasus Airlines
PIA also signed a codeshare deal with budget carrier Pegasus Airlines, which operates out of Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, but implementation has been stalled due to COVID-19. The addition of Pegasus would add 25 additional codeshare connecting points in Europe for PIA.
PIA’s hope to appeal its EASA ban and restore air service before the end of August is very optimistic. In fact, I predict the ban will be extended even longer. Thus, the idea of creating an international gateway in Istanbul makes sense. If flights can be timed to take advantage of Turkish Airlines’ banked flight schedule to Europe, PIA will not be totally shut out, even while on the blacklist.
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Bans are the new black.