Shaheen Air, which was the second largest airline in Pakistan in early 2018, has officially announced that it has shut down services.
The troubled airline had been grounded by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) over unpaid dues in mid-2018.
The announcement was made former Director HR Shaheen Air Imran Aziz on behalf of former CEO Ehsan Sehbai, informing the airline’s employees they had been forced to shut down officially due to unavailability of funds. The airline will soon declare itself bankrupt, Mr. Aziz added.
There had been news in late 2018 that a Saudi investor was looking to take over the carrier but it seems that deal has fallen through.
All of the airline’s planes have been taken back by AerCap Ireland, the lessor which had provided the majority of Shaheen Air’s fleet.
Shaheen Air was seen as a success story as late as 2017 having expanded its operations in Pakistan and beyond and having a fleet of 16 aircraft. The airline was owned by the Sehbai family having originally been established by the Shaheen Foundation in 1993.
Shaheen Air’s demise shows the difficulties faced by the aviation industry in Pakistan with other airlines like Air Indus, Bhoja Air and Aero Asia shutting down operations after only a few years of operation.
It is a bitter blow for Shaheen Air employees who had not been paid for the last 8 months. The airline employed almost 4000 people directly and 1000 people indirectly.
Pakistan now has only three airlines operating: the government-owned struggling national carrier PIA, and the private airlines AirBlue and Serene Air.