Pakistan has formally launched the tender for a majority stake in its national carrier, seeking expressions of interest from potential bidders by 3 May.

The government, which directly holds a 96% stake in Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), is seeking to sell between 51% and 100% of the airline.

pakistan international

Source: PIA

It came after the country’s Privatisation Commission Board approved the prequalification criteria for the evaluation of bids, clearing the path to the formal launch of the tender.

Privatisation minister Abdul Aleem Khan says PIA represents ”a very attractive opportunity for both local and international investors especially after the restructuring of the airline where major liabilities of the company have been taken off its balance sheet”. He adds that he hopes the Pakistani business community will also ”look at this opportunity with enthusiasm and will show their interest in acquiring the national airline”.

The tender highlights that PIA holds rights for 97 international routes, including slots at some of the attractive destinations. It also cites figures showing Pakistan’s “under-served” aviation market is set to have an annual compound growth rate of 5.5% over the coming five years.

PIA’s most recent full-year annual report shows it generated revenues of PKR172 billion ($619 million) in carrying 4.2 million passengers in 2022. That is around a million lower than its pre-pandemic passenger high of 5.2 million in 2019. The report shows the airline was loss-making between 2017 and 2022.

Cirium fleets data shows PIA has a fleet of eight Boeing 777s, 13 Airbus A320s and a pair of ATR 42s.