Pak Forced To Outsource Islamabad Airport Due To Forex Crisis: Report

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Amid the continuously depleting forex reserves, the Government of Pakistan has been pushing for outsourcing the operations of major airports. The finance minister has already convened multiple meetings of the committee formed to engage foreign operators for outsourcing, Dawn reported.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told the stakeholders to finalise formalities to outsource the operations of Islamabad International Airport (IIA) by August 12, the final day of the incumbent government’s term, Dawn reported quoting sources.

Dawn is a national daily of Pakistan that reports on politics and current affairs of Pakistan.

The minister chaired a meeting of the steering committee for assessing the progress of airport operations outsourcing on Saturday.

A source privy to the meeting told Dawn that the committee had given explicit instructions to complete the necessary procedures for IIA outsourcing as a priority, Dawn reported.

An official announcement issued after the meeting said World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), the transaction adviser for the outsourcing, briefed the meeting on the progress.

Dar wants changes to aviation laws approved before month-end. The meeting agreed to fast-track IIA’s outsourcing to improve service delivery in line with best industry practices, Dawn reported.

The IFC also gave a presentation to the committee which also took decisions on the future roadmap of outsourcing IIA operations.

On March 31, the Economic Coordination Committee decided to kick off the 25-year outsourcing of operations and land assets at Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi airports. Their functions will be run through a public-private partnership to generate foreign exchange.

In the meeting on Saturday, Dar also gave a deadline to departments concerned for finalising amendments to civil aviation laws and a plan for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) restructuring, Dawn reported.

The amendments are being made to segregate the functions of the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority, PIA and Airports Security Force. The objective is to eliminate overlapping responsibilities of these organisations by enacting ordinances.

The minister emphasised getting amendments approved by the parliament before the end of July. This timeline is crucial as it would allow global aviation regulators to dispatch inspectors in August for an on-ground assessment of operational systems and standards necessary to restore PIA’s flights to the US, UK and Europe. Failure to meet this deadline would result in a year-long delay before the inspections occur, Dawn reported.

PIA’s flights to these destinations have been suspended since 2020 following a controversy surrounding pilots’ professional degrees and other aircraft safety standards.

The meeting chaired by the finance minister was also attended by Federal Minister for Aviation and Railways Saad Rafique, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Finance Tariq Bajwa, the Aviation Division secretary, Public Private Partnership Authority CEO, PCAA director general, IFC representatives and other government officials.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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