Pakistan’s government proposes privatising PIA

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Pakistan's government plans to sell a significant stake in ailing flag-carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

According to media reports in Pakistan, prime minister Nawaz Sharif's government plans to sell up to a 26% stake in the carrier to private investors.

A spokesman for PIA, however, says the process has not yet started, but its board of directors has been instructed to prepare recommendations to improve the airline. If privatisation is recommended, a formal approval will have to be obtained before the tender process can begin.

In July, the prime minister's aviation advisor, Shujaat Azeem, raised the prospect that the airline may be privatised during an interview with a local newspaper, saying that the airline could not "rely on heavy bailout packages forever."

However, PIA's unions have indicated that they are opposed to any move to privatise the carrier for fear that it may shed jobs. Political opponents have also raised concerns about the transparency of the privatisation process.

PIA adds that it does not expect that privatisation will have any impact on its plans to acquire new narrowbody aircraft. The airline has recently issued tenders to purchase up to 10 aircraft, and a separate one to lease a further 10 aircraft. It has also issued a tender for four narrowbodies on short-term wet leases.

Flightglobal’s Ascend Online Fleets database shows that the carrier operates six ATR 42-500s, eight Airbus A310-300s, three Boeing 737-300s, four 747-300s and nine 777s.