Pakistan International Airlines, which in May suffered a fatal crash in Karachi, must undergo reforms including increasing revenue and upgrading its aircraft, Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan has said.

The flag carrier’s chief executive Arshad Malik, who was reinstated to his position in March following a court dispute over his appropriateness for the role given his military background, “apprised the prime minister of the strategies to be worked out regarding the reorganisation of the national airline” during a meeting on reforming and restructuring PIA, according to an 8 June statement from the prime minister’s office.

This includes how to improve the “financial discipline” of the company, the efficient utilisation of the company’s assets, and “other related matters”.

Khan told the meeting that the country is suffering due to Covid-19 and the present situation demands that the reform and reorganisation of the national carrier, which is losing billions of rupees a month, be expedited. Pakistan has 113,702 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including 2,255 deaths, according to 11 June data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

He added that “special attention” should be paid to reduce PIA’s expenses, increase its revenue and financial resources, and upgrade its aircraft. Special attention should also be paid to “the best use of domestic and foreign assets owned by PIA through a clean and completely transparent procedure so that these assets do not become a further burden on the people”.

Malik said PIA is facing a monthly deficit of about PKR6 billion ($36.5 million), while yearly expenditure on the salaries of the airline’s 14,000 employees alone is PKR24 billion.

He added that the person holding the top position at the carrier has been changed 10 times in the last 12 years, and in his 16-month tenure as current chief executive, he was unable to work for almost three due to court cases.

“The prime minister was informed that due to these reasons, the process of institutional reform has been severely affected,” the statement said.

Malik also briefed Khan on the progress of the investigation into the 22 May crash of PIA Flight 8303, operated with a GECAS-leased Airbus A320, that killed 97 of 99 passengers and crew. Malik’s briefing included details, which were not specified in the statement from the prime minister’s office, about the handing over of victims’ remains to next of kin and paying compensation to victims.

Other attendees of the meeting, which took place at an unstated date, were minister for aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan, federal minister for information and broadcasting Shibli Faraz, advisor for institutional reforms and austerity Ishrat Hussain, retired special assistant lieutenant general Asim Saleem Bajwa, and “other senior officials”.