Karachi airport serves as a base for Pakistan’s National airlines PIA and two privately owned low cost competitors, Air Blue and Shaheen. Whereas Shaheen Airlines has experienced diminishing fortunes, Air Blue has been the pick of all local carriers when it comes to serving probably the most important Karachi to Dubai leg.
Apart from a monopoly of PIA in serving the remote regions and the northern areas, the competition between the three local airlines has drastically reduced airfares between all the major cities in Pakistan including Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Multan, Quetta and Faisalabad. The international traffic mostly comprises of carriers of Middle East origin such as Emirates, Qatar Airways, Gulf Air and Eithad.
Besides more than fifteen airlines, the only other significant airlines are Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Air China and Thai Airways. The three operating terminals include a busy cargo terminal that is regularly served by TCS, DHL and most major air cargo operators and there are two concrete runways with the ability to handle wide body aircrafts. The favorable location of Karachi at the mouth of the Arabian Sea is a prime attraction for several charter airlines that provide access to the far corners of Africa and Central Asian countries.
In light of heavy operations of both Emirates and Qatar Airways, there are plans to build another runway or upgrade the existing one to accommodate the legendary Airbus A-380 that will form the backbone of these airlines in the near future. There was a time when Karachi was served by all the major international carriers but the ongoing adverse developments in the region accompanied by intense competition from Dubai, Doha, Delhi and Mumbai has proved a major hurdle to market Karachi as the resounding success that it was in the pre 80’s era.
There are international flights to Kaohsiung that are available thru international airline carriers such as Air Macau, China Airlines, Mandarin Airlines, Dragonair, EVA Air, Uni Air, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, TransAsia Airways and Vietnam Airlines.
Completed at the cost of nearly 100 million dollars, the international standard Jinnah Terminal offers all the basic amenities to International travelers including foreign exchange facilities, traveler cheque and a dedicated lounge for Barclay’s premier customers. The Ispahani hanger is a testament to the highly skilled technicians and aircraft maintenance facilities at Karachi.
Numerous airlines including Philippine Airlines, Turkish Airlines and Air Universal utilize this facility. Numerous travel agents have set up their offices in the premises of the Jinnah terminal who offer local and foreign visitors some of the best airfare on the routes to Pakistan’s famed Northern Areas, Middle East and South East Asia.