The Demise Of Shaheen Air - From Strong To Weak

Updated: Sep 14, 2019

Shaheen Air (SAI) was and still is a known name in the aviation industry both for its excellence in the field and its recent sudden downfall.

The airline, which exceeded expectations both financially and economically, was owned by Khalid Sehbai family and was founded in 1993 by the Sehbai Foundation and has proven to be a well maintained airline. It has also made it to the top five best airlines of Pakistan.

An airline that once had a fleet of 15 aircraft serving 22 destinations, is now no where to be seen in the skies anymore. The first blow in it's downfall came in 2004 when the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) grounded the airline due to its 1.25 billion Pakistani rupee dept. However the airline was soaring back in the horizons only three days later.

The actual debt figure was not released until July 2018 which was the same year the second blow came - in the form of a lease. Shaheen Airline leased aircraft from companies like AerCap which gave the airline seven Airbus A319 aircrafts. This brought the fleet to include the A319s, A320s and A321s for short and medium haul flights and the A330s for long haul flights to UK.

In order to increase profits, SAI wet leased A319s to Arabian carriers like Royal Jordanian and Air Egypt but failed to maintain them, resulting in a discontinuation of the agreements. After some time, three A320s with registration AP-BMC, AP-BLN and AP-BLK were transported to Queen Alia International Airport in Amman for the same reason.

Why hadn’t Shaheen Air paid all its dues despite being a recognized airline is still an unanswered question which has started to echo among the people as well as the company's employees. That said echo resonated into full blown strikes by the engineers responsible for the maintenance of the last Airbus A330 owned by Shaheen Air resulting in a delay in the lucrative Hajj operations. This was the last straw for the twenty five year old airline, the owners had no choice left but to either pay their employees and other dues from their own pocket or file bankruptcy.

All possible investors had shied away from investment possibilities, plunging the future of the airline into complete darkness until a member of Saudi Arabian royal family stepped forward. The said Prince had seemingly decided to lend a helping hand to the crumbling wings of the airline but those wings have yet to be seen putting the airline back to the sky.

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