KARACHI: A month-long battle among the US airlines and lease companies for the supply of Boeing aircraft has been finally settled as Pakistan International Airlines has decided to neither procure used planes nor white tales.
High-placed sources in the national flag carrier told The News that despite the very low price offered by United Airlines and others, PIA discarded all the offers and would place orders for new aircraft with Boeing.
Everything with Boeing, the US giant, was almost final and the order would be placed in mid of this month while the first aircraft would be delivered in January 2004, the sources said.
The PIA board of directors recently approved a long-term 10-year fleet plan to replace and induct the new aircraft into the PIA fleet with an outlay of $2 billion. According to the approved fleet plan, three aircraft are to be inducted in 2003, two in 2006, three in 2008 and three in 2011.
Initially, the PIA was interested in the placement of order for three aircraft. However, Boeing forced an agreement of minimum eight aircraft, the sources added.
The United Airlines of US is facing threat of bankruptcy and its management is preparing to file the case in the court under Chapter 11 for the declaration of bankruptcy. United Airlines has offered its B-777 planes of 2000 vintage to PIA at very low price. Similarly, Boeing and a US leasing company offered white tales (manufactured planes ready for sale) to PIA at discounted price. However, the PIA management has turned down all the offers.
United Airlines could not offer a package that matched with the Boeing offer for the training of the cockpit crew and supply of spare parts, the PIA officials said. The second deficiency in the white tales and United Airlines planes was that their seat configuration was not according to the requirement of PIA, they added.
Despite the comparatively heavy payment to Boeing and a delayed delivery, order for the new aircraft was in favour of PIA, the officials insisted.
They said the decision for placement of the order with Boeing was taken in mid-September. However, the PIA management was busy in meetings with all the interested sellers to complete the formality, they added.
"As PIA is a public corporation listed on the stock exchange, completion of the formality is our necessity," a high profile PIA official replied when this scribe asked why they were busy in meetings without result with the other sellers. The last meeting in this regard is scheduled for Friday in Islamabad.