India, Pakistan find common cause in shoddy national carriers

February 16, 2012

The two are nuclear-armed, arch rivals often threatening the stability of South Asia and with little common ground, but the sorry state of their national carriers puts India and Pakistan on the same pedestal.

India may be an emerging superpower and Pakistan seemingly always on the brink of a disaster, but the national carriers of the arch-rivals face similar woes.

Both carriers — Air India (AI) and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) –- are struggling to stay afloat, battered by financial woes and mismanagement.

Amid a major cash crunch and reeling under heavy losses, Air India and Pakistan International Airlines are struggling to continue operations — a shame for the state-run carriers which often are the defining images of their countries.

“Financially unviable” is the term attached to both carriers by lenders and both airlines have so far just managed to survive on taxpayer money.

The Indian government, battered by allegations of graft, and with the opposition snapping at its heels, can’t even afford to shut the airline down primarily on fears of a political backlash.

While Air India struggles with striking pilots, the state of publicly-listed PIA is worse.

On a flight from London to Islamabad, water flowed from the toilets through the aisles on a PIA plane, Reuters reports.

Opinions are divided on whether the state carriers should be saved by using taxpayer money, particularly when they are this inefficient. But closing down the airline will mean immense negative publicity for the governments.

For instance, Air India has grown from being a private airline owned by legendary businessman J.R.D. Tata to the top Indian carrier along with fattening middle-class aspirations, and the people of the country share a special bond with the airline.

Even when the airline has the worst on-time performance among Indian carriers, and flight cancellations do not surprise anyone any more, Indians still want to see the company survive.

The Indian government may soon approve a plan to restructure a whopping $4 billion of Air India debt at the cost of worsening asset quality of the lenders, but in Pakistan, with little financial muscle, PIA’s chances of a dramatic revival are thin.

People of both countries, who take supreme pride in their national carriers, hope for a sustainable solution to the woes, although the odds may suggest otherwise.


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“India may be an emerging superpower”, Sure in lack of toilets and the worlds largest HIV positive population.

The writers Hindu genes became apparent when he started to blame the failure of India’s national carrier on Pakistan and its people.

What territory Pakistan annexed from India in the 1947 war and defended in 1965 can not be undone by Indian wishful thinking and anger as manifested by this article.

Posted by Pathozade | Report as abusive

Comment by Pathozade is sheer nonsense. I cannot find anywhere the negative comments against Pakistan except to blame “mismanagment” for both airlines travails and a quote extracted from the news services. I have flown PIA Tues am Karachi/Islamabad, return Friday pm. This is the route all bureaucrats take, Islamabad nearly deserted on week-ends. We all conduct business from just one fortress like hotel up on the slope with beautiful (Shalimar-like) gardens owned by the Arabs. The only truly secure place save for the Presidential Palace. Once, in the company of former finance minister Shaukat, we were ejected from first class because an MP “co-opted” the seats. The owner of Dawn was on the flight. A fight ensued, degenerating into fisticuffs and shoving, and the flight was delayed an hour. Indeed the return Friday night flights are so full that, rules be damned, some passengers stand in the back and in the aisles.. This is reality.. Parveen

Posted by Bludde | Report as abusive