Pakistan denies reports of PIA privatisation delay

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Pakistan has reaffirmed plans to divest its stake in Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) through privatisation.

This comes after local media reported that privatisation plans would be delayed. When contacted by Flightglobal, however, an official with the country's privatisation commission denied those reports, and highlighted the plan will proceed as intended.

Pakistan's finance ministry indicated in a letter to the World Bank that it plans to privatise 26% of shares in PIA by end-December, which was reiterated at the commission's board meeting. This includes the sale of non-strategic assets in PIA Investment, such as hotels it owns in New York and Paris. By end-March, it intends to hire financial advisors to seek “potential strategic private sector participation” in the airline.

For the interim, Pakistan’s flag carrier says it will acquire additional aircraft on lease and rationalise its route network.

In recent weeks, PIA has issued tenders seeking to lease new aircraft. It also accepted wet-lease bids from three carriers from a recent tender, to operate four Airbus A320-family aircraft from 15 March till 31 May.

Flightglobal’s Ascend Online Fleets database shows that as of 11 March, PIA has 29 aircraft in operation and another nine in storage. It operates ATR 42-500 turboprops, Airbus A310s, Boeing 737s, 747-300s and 777 aircraft.