Pakistan International Airlines eyes forensic audit to stem constant losses

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Ailing Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has admitted that it has lost a combined Pakistan rupees (PRs) 139 billion ($1.43 billion) since 2005.

The revelation came in a tender document calling for a forensic audit to ascertain the core reasons for its deteriorating performance, fix mismanagement within the company and suggest actions to make the airline financially viable again.

It attributes its poor performance to the "ever increasing fuel cost, unprecedented devaluation of [Pakistan] rupee, overstaffing, highly leveraged capital structure causing back-breaking debt servicing cost and last, but not the least, political interference in affairs [of the corporation]".

The tender closes on 11 February, with the successful bidder given 120 days from the commencement date to complete the audit and deliver its findings.

The audit is the latest effort by the airline to turn itself around. In 2011, a new business plan was approved by Pakistan's finance ministry, and recent media reports claim that the airline is in negotiations for a new bailout from the government to overcome its crippling debt load and allow it to lease newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft.

In September 2012, financial reports revealed that PIA's liabilities exceeded its current assets by PRs123 billion, prompting its auditors to warn that the company may not be able to continue as a going concern.

Flightglobal Pro data shows that PIA operates a fleet of 31 aircraft, comprising nine Airbus A310s, six ATR 42s, four Boeing 737-300s, three 747-300s, six 777-200ERs and three 777-300ERs. It also has five additional 777-300ERs on order.