Pakistan International Airlines could be on the verge of pulling out of Leeds-Bradford International Airport – leaving the area without any direct flights to the sub-continent.
It has emerged that the airline is considering suspending its flights the Yeadon airport to Islamabad after May 15.
The threat to the twice-weekly service is already hitting passengers, who are being told they cannot book flights from LBIA to Islamabad after May 15 because the route may be suspended.
No-one was available for comment at the airline yesterday, but a Leeds Bradford Airport spokesman said: “We are aware of this. It is very disappointing news and we are working with PIA regarding this matter.”
The shock news comes less than three years after the area previously faced losing the important long haul connection.
The crisis, in 2011, was averted after two weeks of intensive negotiations between PIA , Leeds Bradford Airport and Bradford’s then Lord Mayor Naveeda Ikram.
But problems have resurfaced with the news that the airline’s flights from Leeds Bradford could be suspended within weeks. Speaking last night, Coun Ikram (Labour, Little Horton) said the flight was important to many people in the Bradford district.
She said: “It’s a service that is well used by the community and it’s a vital service. That’s one of the reasons I got involved in the negotiations to save it when I was Lord Mayor.
“But PIA has its operational reasons and if it’s not financially viable, then it’s a difficult situation.”
PIA launched the flights in 2008 to replace a short-lived Shaheen Air International service which was axed due to problems with plane availability. The airline’s decision to fly out of Leeds-Bradford was hailed as a “major achievement for the airport” by LBIA commercial director Tony Hallwood. He also described the airline’s route as a “vital international link,” and said there was a significant demand for the flights.
If the route is axed, passengers from Yorkshire will have to travel to Manchester, Birmingham, or London Heathrow for flights to Pakistan.