RAWALPINDI: Pakistan International Airlines has refuted the reports of the imminent closure of its operation, saying the national carrier was also clearing all national and international payments.

PIA has reportedly grounded several aircraft as it struggles to secure funds to maintain its operations for the next few months. Some media reports also claimed that the operations would be ceased by Sept 15, evoking a strong response from the airline’s management and lawmakers in the Senate.

The Ministry of Aviation, while seeking a cash injection of Rs23 billion, has also informed the government that Boeing and Airbus — two of the leading commercial jet manufacturers — were on the verge of discontinuing spare parts’ supply by mid-September, according to reports.

PIA spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez Khan has refuted the reports as baseless and said the flight operation was continuing and the airline was also disbursing most urgent domestic and international payments.

Spokesperson says all payments being made; pre-bidding process started to outsource Islamabad airport operations

Mr Khan added that the “concern and misunderstanding spread by a certain section about PIA” were unfounded and untrue.

The airline’s reputation has been greatly damaged by reports of operations’ closure by Sept 15, the spokesperson said, adding that all payments were being cleared and salaries have been paid to the employees.

The flight operation was continuing according to the schedule and the airline was “standing on a strong foundation and has full capacity to cope with these situations”.

The airline has a strong network across the globe and its fleet operates worldwide, said Mr Khan, adding that there was an adequate number of aircraft for international and domestic flights.

PCAA starts pre-bidding

Separately, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCCA) has initiated the pre-bidding process to outsource the operations of Islamabad International Airport under the public-private partnership (PPP) model.

An invitation notice has been issued to the interested parties to attend the pre-bid conference in Dubai on Sept 26.

According to the PCAA, the interested parties must confirm their attendance through email by Sept 19.

The venue and time will be communicated by the PCAA three days prior to the pre-bid meeting to those persons who have confirmed their attendance, the PCAA notice said.

Any change in the date of the meeting shall be communicated on the PCAA website.

The process to outsource operations of the Islamabad International Airport was initiated during the tenure of the previous PDM government. In July, former aviation minister Khawaja Saad Rafique announced in the National Assembly that the operations would be outsourced for 15 years.

However, navigational services and runway operations will not be outsourced. The CAA will continue to carry out these operations,“ he had said on the floor of the house. “The rest will be outsourced.”

Mr Rafique had said 12-13 companies were interested in running the airport and that there would be a competitive bidding to award the contract.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2023

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