Air Sial will create competition for other Pakistani airlines, Prime Minister Imran Khan said after he inaugurated the new airline in Sialkot on Wednesday.
Air Sial is Pakistan’s third private airline. Its first flight via Airbus A320 landed at the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi from the United States last month.
The airline had to delay from June because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent restrictions on air travel.
The airline’s operations will initially rely on three Airbus A320-200s, which have been leased from AerCap, the world’s largest independent aircraft leasing company, based in Dublin, Ireland.
The premier said he is visiting Sialkot to meet its business community. “The inauguration of Air Sial is just an excuse [for the visit],” the premier said in his address after Federal Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar spoke about the state of Pakistan’s economy.
The premier called Sialkot’s business community the “most vibrant” one in the country.
“First you established this [private] airport. No one has done this in such limited resources,” he said, congratulating the business community on launching the Air Sial initiative.
The launch of Air Sial, the premier said, is beneficial for all.
He said Sialkot is about to become an even bigger export hub of Pakistan. “For this, you need an airline,” he said.
This is just the start, but I have no doubt that you will run this just as well as you’ve run your airport, the premier said, adding that Air Sial will give competition to PIA.
“PIA will see that an airline is being run efficiently, on low funds and giving good service and this will put pressure on it to improve. Other airlines will also feel the pressure to be efficient,” the premier said, adding that Pakistan will benefit.
‘COVID-19 cases are rising, take precautions’
He spoke about the COVID-19 pandemic and the difficulties caused by it.
The PM said Pakistan managed to save its people from the virus. He, however, criticised the Opposition for holding public gatherings.
“The same Opposition that criticised me for not doing a complete lockdown and used to give the example of India’s Narendra Modi and its lockdown, is now holding public rallies,” he said.
He said coronavirus cases are rising and if we don’t take proper precaution, the winters will be bad for the country. He gave examples of the United States, UK and Italy and the restrictions they have placed to avoid the spread of the virus.
“I will repeat – wear a mask. It is the only way to stop the virus,” the premier said.