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PIA fare hike hits mango exports to Norway hard                                        

Pakistan’s mango exports to Norway could be hit adversely because of the hefty rise in the PIA freight for the Oslo sector, exporters tell Dawn. Exporters say the national flag carrier is charging a hefty Rs205 per kilogram for shipping mangoes to Oslo as compared to its normal rate of Rs114 per kilogram charged for any other destination in Europe.

‘Even the PIA mango freight rate for Toronto, Canada, is Rs160 per kilogram despite the longer distance,’ a mango exporter from Lahore, Syed Hasan Reza, told this reporter on Thursday.

Syed Reza says all foreign airlines are charging mango exporters up to Rs120 per kilogram for shipping their product from Pakistan to Norway.

PIA officials say the airline has raised its mango freight rate for Oslo because of the increasing rush of exporters.

The national flag carrier remains the exporters’ preferred airline for shipping mangoes to Norway because of its two direct flights every week for Oslo. But most exporters are now starting to use foreign airlines for the purpose because of their lower rates.

‘How long can any exporter afford to pay an extra amount of Rs85 on kilogram of mangoes and suffer losses just to ship his export by a direct flight or for love of his country’s national airline?,’ asks Syed Reza.

Another exporter Shoaib Sheikh says Pakistan is exporting up to 50 tonnes of mangoes each week to Norway. But, he says, the PIA decision to charge ‘premium’ freight for Oslo could hit mango exports to the Scandinavian country hard.

A PIA official, who refused to give his name, acknowledged that the mango shipments by the national carrier to Oslo have fallen in the recent days.

Syed Husnain Ashar Ashi, an official of the Pakistan-Norway Chamber of Commerce, called Dawn to protest the PIA’s ‘highhandedness’ with mango exporters. He said the increase in the cost of mango shipments is regrettable and affecting importers. ‘We have already been forced to cancel orders placed by some chain stores because the increased cost,’ he claims.

Shoaib Sheikh has called upon the senior PIA management to look into the matter and rationalise the freight charges for the mango exporters.

‘We are not asking the PIA to stop charging premium. But we do want it to be reasonable and competitive. Also the PIA management should take the interest of the country into consideration before raising its rates to unreasonable levels,’ he says.

Courtesy: The DAWN;

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