Bhoja Air in the skies
Looks like countrys Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has finally decided to relive its open sky policy practiced back in 1990s. Its high time that the focus is shifted from increasing taxes to fostering competition. After a year-long grapple with raising taxes and introducing new charges, Bhoja Air sounds like a breather for the debilitating industry. Amongst the advantages, Bhoja Air enjoys a fleet consisting of five Boeing aircraft, which is definitely younger than the national carriers fleet of 39 aircraft. According to the CEO of Bhoja Air, the aim of the airline is to get hold of satisfactory market share by maximizing capacity. This is quite evident from the low fares up till March 23, 2012. One salient feature in the embarkation of Bhoja Air operation is their striking philosophy of targeting not only those who travel by air but those who travel by road and rail. The airline foresees a stronger position in the cargo and freight market as well where the group is already running contracts with various international airlines like British Airways. With Bhoja Air back on the aviation map of the country, passengers from Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Multan and Sukkur can now count on another option while deciding to travel by air. With Dubai, Qatar, Kuwait and the UK flights planned to commence soon from Karachi and Lahore, skies are definitely getting crowded this year. However, with bloom comes gloom. The domestic aviation has taken a nosedive and just recently, the country has been warned by international authorities against the poor measures to control the air traffic. Certainly with skies getting crowded, air traffic control is a significant concern for the airline and hence the industry. Although, it must have taken something for this company to stand back from the rubble of default, the global oil and fuel market continues to play a major role in the sustainability of this airline that has already been walloped by it once. And with cost contribution of over 50%, fuel is a critical success factor that needs to be taken care of. Where operations launched by Bhoja Air is blowing some hope into the deflated sector, it is certainly not pleasing news for the national carrier which has set forth its reservations against the crowding skies from time to time. With Bhoja Air back in the air space and a couple of more lined up for the year, the strategy now adopted by the national carrier is one awaited move that would shape the future of the industry. Questions whether Bhoja Air will be able to grab the hold of a considerable market share and maximize passenger traffic or it will be another airline falling victim to the bureaucracy of the airline industry need answers.
**One way flight from KHI to LHE, economy class on March 7, 2012 ** PIA equivalent: Basic fare:Rs4.5K-8K; Taxes and surcharge: Rs4.5K) Source: Company websites