KARACHI / UNITEDNEWS: In a bid to fight back and increase its share in mango exports, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has said it has finalised a plan to ship maximum quantity of mango this season.
Despite huge potential, PIA’s share in mango exports is just 15% while rest of the market is in the hands of private and international airlines. However, this year the national flag carrier aims to push its share to 30%.
“This year will be the best for mango shipments as we have designated special managers who will look after all mango export operations,” PIA General Manager Cargo Shahid Khoso said on Saturday.
Khoso, who was visiting the Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Association (PFVA) office along with a seven-member team, assured traders that the airline would take every possible step to increase mango exports this year.
“This year, we have acquired new equipment that we were lacking to facilitate cargo operations because of which I am hopeful that the reservations of fruit exporters can be addressed,” added Khoso.
On the other hand, PFVA Chairman Waheed Ahmed assured the PIA team that exporters would prefer PIA over other airlines in sending export orders. “We will prefer PIA and only give orders to private and international airlines when we see that PIA has no further capacity and it cannot take more export orders,” said Ahmed.
He also said Pakistan could significantly increase its mango exports to Europe if PIA started chartered cargo flights to Amsterdam, a city from where the fruit could be supplied to all major destinations of Europe.
“We receive huge orders from Europe but since we have limited cargo operations we fail to grab most of the opportunities,” he said, adding this problem could be resolved if PIA started chartered cargo flights to Europe in mango season.
According to PFVA, last year Pakistan exported 30,000 tons of mangoes through air route, providing the airlines an income of approximately Rs3 billion in freight charges. However, since PIA has limited cargo operations, it could not lift more than 15% of the fruit and hence lost a lucrative opportunity.
Resultantly, international airlines mostly capitalised on the opportunity as they have far better cargo handling equipment and facilities than local airlines.
Leading exporters, who attended the meeting, said PIA was their first choice among the airlines because they wanted to support the national carrier. It was in the interest of both PIA and exporters to support each other so that both could grow together, they said.
They also urged the GM cargo to improve fruit export facilities, enabling exporters to meet the growing demand for mango, especially in European countries.