This is an old news from Jun 2004.... I wonder what happened?
PIA Fokkers to be replaced with new aircraft
19 June 2004 Saturday
By Tahir Siddiqui
KARACHI, June 18: Pakistan International Airline has decided to replace its ageing Fokker fleet with SAAB2000 aircraft.
Sources said the airline decided to replace the F-27s as the Fokker aircraft manufacturers, a Dutch concern, had stopped production over 10 years ago.
They said that spare parts of these aircraft were now available at exorbitant prices and therefore, PIA decided to go for the SAAB2000 aircraft. Interestingly, the sources said, the SAAB's aircraft manufacturing division stopped production some three years ago. The Swedish concern is now dealing in cars and defence aviation accessories, they said.
They said that neither the members of PIA's board of directors nor retired senior officers of the Pakistan Air Force were qualified to decide the type of aircraft suited for commercial aviation because they had no expertise in the field.
The sources said that fleet replacement and the choice of aircraft mainly depended on five factors which were: (a) airline's financial status, (b) passenger profile, (c) route structure, (d) Environmental conditions of the main hubs from which it plans to operate and (e) fare structure.
They said that none of the factors was considered when the decision to buy the new aircraft was made. The sources said environmental conditions were important for smooth operation of an aircraft as high summer temperatures, elevation, length of runway and obstacles in flight path determined the payload that an aircraft could carry.
They said the SAAB2000 aircraft were fully computerised and their operation capability depended on optimum operation of their computerised systems, while hot and humid climatic conditions with dust suspension affected the functioning of computers.
The sources said a high-tech aircraft, equipped with advanced airborne landing instrumentation, would be useless if the airports on which they were planned to be operated, were not equipped with appropriate landing instrument.
The sources said the airports used by the Fokker were not equipped with instrumentation to justify the high capital investment involved in the purchase of the new aircraft.
In fact no airport in Pakistan, except Lahore, has Category 2 landing facility, while the recently purchased B-777 has the capability to land in Category 3 weather conditions. (Category 3 landing facility enables an aircraft to land in visibilities ranging from zero to 50 metres).
The sources said the Fokker operation had never been profitable for the national carrier as it had been meant to meet the political obligation of successive governments over the past 15 to 20 years. They said the high cost of inducting new technology could be justified only if it could be used to its optimum capacity.