Pakistan to tackle potential bidders’ concern over PIA safety ban

Published July 3, 2024
FILE PHOTO: View of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) passenger plane, taken through a glass panel, at Islamabad International Airport, Pakistan — Reuters
FILE PHOTO: View of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) passenger plane, taken through a glass panel, at Islamabad International Airport, Pakistan — Reuters

Pakistan’s privatisation commission is addressing concerns voiced by those qualified to bid for the country’s national airline about a European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) ban on the carrier, an official said on Wednesday.

The privatisation of the loss-making state-owned enterprises has long been on the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s list of recommendations for the country, which is seeking to strike a deal with the fund for a longer term bailout this month.

The privatisation commission pre-qualified six consortiums for bidding in June and expects to conclude the privatisation process of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) by next month.

Usman Bajwa, secretary of the commission, told a briefing the body was addressing concerns voiced by those pre-qualified by the government to bid for a stake ranging from 51 per cent to 100pc.

Previous governments avoided disposing of the flag carrier as a potentially highly unpopular move, but the country needs to unlock further funding from the IMF.

EASA banned the PIA from its most lucrative routes in Europe and Britain after a PIA plane crash in Karachi in 2020 killed nearly 100, followed by a scandal over pilot licenses.

The ban continues, costing the airline annual revenue of nearly Rs40 billion ($143.73 million), the government has told parliament.

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