RAWALPINDI: With the approval of the prime minister, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will be separated into two divisions on the basis of regulatory functions and airport services, the Aviation Division said on Monday.

According to a press release issued by the division, Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan said after a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office that Prime Minister Imran Khan approved the proposed separation of regulatory functions from airport services.

He said the cabinet had asked for the separation in order to improve airport services and other facilities.

The National Aviation Policy 2019 also stipulates the separation of regulatory functions according to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) requirements.

An ICAO universal safety oversight audit is scheduled for September next year.

The minister added that the separation will require comprehensive consideration of aspects such as assured service quality, the separation of human resource, workable reorganisation, steady revenue generation and most importantly, ensuring safety and customer satisfaction.

Once separated, the CAA’s regulatory body will work under the Cabinet Division and another division, while the Airport Services of Pakistan will work under the Aviation Division. Airport Services will also be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan as the owner of 43 airports in the country.

The company will operate on various commercial models, the minister said. Interested parties will be invited to invest in a subsidiary company initially for the three major airports in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore. Another model will be to invite open tender to operate the aforementioned airports.

If no positive response is received in these cases, the company will consider joint ventures to operate airports. If there are no acceptable responses, the company will operate airports itself.

While detailing the timeline for the separation, the minister said that until August this year there would be a change of management committee, valuation, rules of business would be developed and legal review. There will be a mid-process review in September this year, in which stakeholder input will be sought and government approvals processed. Until December 2019, there will be implementation, administrative allocation, the ICAO review and Safety Management System review.

The minister said the separation will benefit the aviation sector in the long run.

According to sources, Qatari authorities have shown interest in investing in allied services at the Islamabad International Airport, which includes construction, operation of a hotel and other facilities to promote tourism. The government has been considering this, but no decisions have been made so far.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2019