Minister: (Govt has no plans to privatize PIA: Dar)

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar on Sunday said that the PML-N government has no plans whatsoever to privatize the national flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

He said that the government in fact only plans to seek a strategic partner for the airline and added that efforts would be made to invite credible and reputed international strategic partners to the extent of 26% in only the core business of PIA.

The process of selecting the strategic partners would be carried out ensuring complete transparency, he added. He categorically sated there will be no layoffs in PIA and the employees will continue their jobs and careers without any charge in their normal terms and conditions of employment.

He added that even if a strategic partner for the airline could not be found, the government remained committed to ensuring that PIA regained its lost glory in the shortest possible time.

The PML-N government, the minister emphasized, actually initiated the restructuring exercise for PIA immediately after assuming office in June 2013. As a result of government’s efforts, there has been a visible improvement in the overall working of the airline. The number of operational aircraft available with PIA has increased from 18 in June 2013 to 38 at present.

This figure will rise to 40 by the end of this month, he added. Similarly, the average aircraft age has been reduced from 14 years to 9 years and the government is aiming to bring it further down to 6 years, Dar remarked.

In addition, he said, the on-time performance of PIA has improved to 82% which is comparable with the top Middle Eastern airlines.

He said the ordinance issued by government recently aimed at freeing the PIA management from government control and enabling it to take its decisions promptly and independently in a transparent manner in the best interests of the company and ensuring early implementation of those decisions.

As the same time, conversion of PIA from a corporation to a company will ensure higher protection to all shareholders which will increase investor confidence leading to increased investment in the company, he added.

The PIA, he said, will now follow the Code of Corporate Governance which will help create a better environment for the management by reducing legal problems and chances of fraud. All this will ultimately lead to availability of better human resource and healthier financial position thereby ensuring more aircrafts, more routes and better services for PIA’s customers.

The minister reiterated that, with concerted efforts, PIA will InshaAllah regain its past glory. He also expressed the confidence that all its employees would put in their best to help ensure that PIA achieved international service standards.