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Two private airlines to start domestic operations

ISLAMABAD (January 28 2003) : Two new private Pakistan airlines were due to start domestic operations following a rise in cargo and passenger traffic in the country, aviation officials said on Monday.

Arshad Rashid Sethi, deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of Pakistan, told Reuters that the aviation regulatory authority had issued licences to Royal Airline for passenger and to Pioneer Air for cargo operations.

“The new airlines are showing interest in domestic operations as the markets (passenger and cargo) are improving in Pakistan,” Sethi said.

“Both the two new carriers have indicated a wish to start their services in first half of the current year.”

Three private domestic carriers are operating passenger services in Pakistan other than state-run Pakistan International Airlines, which dominates both the country's passenger and cargo markets.

A number of other private domestic carriers started operations in Pakistan, but several have wound up their business due to poor market conditions.

Pakistan's air cargo market, currently handled exclusively by PIA, is tiny, but aviation experts believe it could grow following an improvement in the economy.

Sethi said the domestic air passenger market was gradually picking up after a slump of at least 30 percent after the September 11 attacks on the United States.

During 2002 over 1.75 million passengers travelled by air domestically in Pakistan.

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