On April 5th, 2021, a Serene Air flight ER502 operated by Airbus A330 with 300 souls on board departed from Karachi to Islamabad. One of the federal cabinet members, Asad Umar, was also onboard as reported by Dawn. After reaching the cruising altitude of Flight level 390 (39000ft) approximately half an hour into the flight due to an engine stall warning.
A similar incident happened to the same airframe back in October 2020, only a week after it started operations with Serene Air. The incident has become a nightmare for the airline ahead of receiving 2 more similar airframes from the lessors.
History of A330 Operations in Pakistan
Airbus A330 had been a great workhorse in Pakistan’s Aviation. Shaheen Air, Pakistan’s largest private airline, which ceased operations in October 2018, was the largest operator of the A330 in Pakistan. They had operated two variants of the mentioned aircraft type at the same time. Shaheen had the privilege to operate seven (7) Airbus A330s in its era.
Another duo of Airbus A330 was operated by Pakistan International Airlines in 2014 – 2015. The frames were wet-leased by Air Asia for Hajj operations.
Airblue, Pakistan’s current largest private airline, has operated 1 Airbus A330 wet-leased from Windrose Airlines from 2016 to 2018. During its assignment with airblue, the frame was only dedicated to operating flights between Jeddah and Lahore. Occasionally between Lahore and Karachi as well.
Why Serene Air Choose Airbus A330s?
Serene Air started its operations in 2016; the airline successfully operated 4 years of domestic operations with fleet of Boeing 737s. Serene Air also acquired a brand new Boeing 737, which directly came from the Boeing factory, one of them is still operating with Serene Air under the registration AP-BNA.
However, when it came to acquiring the wide-body fleet, Serene Air played smart. After the demise of Shaheen Air, most of its cabin and cockpit crew had to lose their jobs. Serene Air identified the market gap and hired the staff, including Pilots, Cabin Crew, and Engineers. These pre-trained staff saved a huge training cost for Serene Air. However, the aged Airbus A330s are not proving to be the right choice for the airline.
Question Mark on Safety & Service
There are two more Airbus A330s are in queue for delivery for Serene Air. Interestingly, both of the upcoming A330s are ex-Shaheen Air. More interestingly Shaheen Air A330s also had faced similar engine problems in the past. So, a roller coaster ride is expected for Serene Air in coming days.
Recently, a german vlogger also criticized Serene Air on his Twitter for not following standard safety protocols. Josh Cahil who is known for his travel vlogs where he reviews airlines and their services mentioned that Serene Air’s crew on Airbus A330 did not secure the cabin before landing.
Featured Image: Baqir Kazmi @ Jetphotos