Govt should subsidize air freight service to facilitate exports - Mohammad Yousaf: Exclusive Interview of Chairman Air Cargo Agents' Association of Pakistan.
Energy Update: Would you share your profile and the services of your company?
Mohammad Yousaf: I have been in this business since 1982. I formed my own cargo company in 1984. I have been running my company along with two shareholders. Right now, my company is facing virtually no competition in Pakistan. We have nine offices related to our air cargo business employing around 400 to 450 people. I'm number one as far as the IATA's ranking is concerned. I am very happy with this business. I have worked a lot for my industry as I'm now recognized for my services for this business.
EU: What were the services done by your company during the coronavirus emergency.
Mr. Yousaf: During the situation of Covid-19 when air travel virtually came to a halt, our company successfully operated 17 cargo flights for Europe. By doing so, we amply served the Pakistani economy and the people of Pakistan. We operated these flights when people had no other mean to send abroad their products as we provided them with an option to do so. We did so as we do our work as a solution provider. Whatever we have been doing, we are doing for the national economy. We don't do work to earn money as we do work to serve the people by facilitating them.
EU: Tell our readers about post-coronavirus situation of your business.
Mr. Yousaf: The situation of our business has improved after the Covid-19. Several airlines are now coming to Pakistan as I do appreciate availability of their service in the country. These airlines have been providing us with opportunities. The rates of air freight service have been much higher as the airlines don't have any other option owing to the less number of air passengers. The Pakistan government should subsidize the air freight service to facilitate exports from the country. Resultantly, the Pakistani exporters facing competition in the international market, will be able to get more orders. The government didn't provide any support to our business during the coronavirus emergency. The government didn't provide any help in this regard despite demands to this effect made by the federation and chambers of commerce and industry. The government says that it doesn't have any money to extend to us any such assistance. The exporters in Pakistan have been doing their work in sheer compulsion as their profit margins have shrunk.
Lately, we have seen much improvement in our business related to three to four products especially the sportswear from Sialkot and textile products being manufactured in Faisalabad. I think that our country do possess massive potential for such production but the main issue is that we lack mutual trust.
EU: Tell us about the project of Sialkot International Airport?
Mr. Yousaf: We launched the airport in Sialkot some 10 to 12 years back. We started this project after realizing that up to 60 per cent population of the most populous province of Pakistan i.e. Punjab lives in the region around Sialkot. Before the situation of Covid-19, we had up to 80 flights operating from Sialkot every week. Now these flights have been reduced to 25 to 30 due to the impact of coronavirus. The cargo in sizable quantity is being sent from the airport. The Sialkot Airport has supported much the economy and people of Pakistan. The government should overwhelmingly support and appreciate such local investment by the businessmen of Pakistan.
EU: What are the salient features of the project of Air Sial?
Mr. Yousaf: Sheikh Riazuddin being a visionary leader of the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry came up with this idea. His vision is also behind the projects of dry port, airport, and road network in Sialkot. The most important feature of Air Sial is that it is a community-owned airline. This airline has come into existence on the basis investment by up to 300 businessmen. This airline enjoys support of an entire community. This airline has emerged as the second national flag carrier in Pakistan. All the businessmen behind this airline have been duly conveyed the vision that Air Sial is not there basically to earn profit. The airline will be run in a manner that it gets the capability to contain within the country the revenue earlier earned by other airlines in Pakistan and sent outside the country. We don't want to earn money. Our aim is to strengthen the national and conserve the precious foreign exchange. We have been doing this work for the sake of our economy and for the good name of our city.
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|Author:||M. Naeem Qureshi|
|Date:||Jan 31, 2021|
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