Due to difficulty obtaining overflying clearance from Russia over non-payment of outstanding dues, Pakistan International Airlines was forced to reroute its Toronto-bound aircraft from Islamabad. According to the 24NewsHD TV channel, the event took place on June 17 when PIA’s flight from Islamabad to Toronto was denied permission to overfly. The media site had previously stated that the PIA flight from Islamabad intended for Toronto would first be taken to Karachi, from which point it will travel across Europe rather than Russia before arriving in Toronto.
The PIA flight PK781, which had more than 250 passengers, was said to be departed from Karachi the same day at noon. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is facing challenges in transferring money for flight overflying charges to Russia. “Russia is facing difficulties to receive overflying payments due to global sanctions. The PIA is forced to take an alternative route,” a PIA spokesman had said.
“The PIA flight from Islamabad to Toronto will use the air route of Iran, Turkey, and Europe,” he had said, adding, “The plane will be refueled in Karachi for a 17-hour non-stop flight.” Providing details of the incident, Mubasher Lucman, an investigative journalist, while taking to Twitter, wrote, “PIA flight to Toronto from Islamabad is delayed as the Russian government has demanded from PIA to clear all outstanding dues.
An alternate route is Europe, and that`s an issue as well. PIA must do something in the next two hours to continue the normalcy of flights. Users on social media are now asking the Pakistani government what lead to this “embarrassing situation”.
All of this is transpiring at a time when Pakistan is facing a huge economic crisis. Meanwhile, at the end of March, the foreign exchange reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan fell by a massive USD 2.915 billion due to the repayment of external debt. Inflation has hit 13.8%. The Pakistani rupee depreciated against the dollar from 186 to 202 in the last month.
Last year, index provider MSCI Inc downgraded Pakistan to a frontier market four years after its ranking was raised to an emerging market.
This month, Rating agency Moody`s downgraded the economy`s outlook from `stable` to `negative,` citing `heightened external vulnerability and uncertainty around securing external financing to meet the country`s needs. Clearly, Pakistan`s repayment ability is reducing. The country is running from China to the IMF for fresh loans, relaxation in repayment terms, etc.
With inputs from ANI