ISLAMABAD - Aviation Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique stressed the need for restructuring the national carrier and warned that otherwise, it may shut operations soon.
In his statement on Friday, the minister said Pakistan International Airlines' deficit is Rs80 billion this year and by 2030, it can swell to Rs259bn.
Stressing the need for reforms in operating the national flag carrier, the minister said if PIA is not restructured, it could shut down in the next 1-1.5 years.
The Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz lawmaker advocated the case for privatization of the airline in his speech on the floor of the National Assembly.
'I was against privatization,' he admitted but hastened to add that even a person like him has realized that if PIA remains as is, its deficit will increase.
He inquired whether Pakistan can afford this or not and added that to avoid such a situation, the private sector should be brought in.
'What South African Airlines and Air India did. Tata has placed an order for 450 new planes for Air India. The state cannot run it. The state can ensure that no employee of PIA should be rendered jobless,' he told his fellow lawmakers.
Revealing the details of the restructuring, the minister said a holding company would be created for PIA adding that the carrier needs billions in investment.
'You have 27-28 planes that are operational. You cannot compete with the powerful airlines of the Gulf,' he acknowledged.
The lawmaker assured that the government was putting the airline on the path and said the employees’ rights should be protected.
'No one should be allowed to play politics on this. It can be profitable — if the private sector comes. It should be on merit,' said Rafique.
Pakistani rupee remains stable against US dollar and other currencies in the open market on February 22, 2024 (Thursday)
In the open market, the US dollar was being quoted at 279.6 for buying and 282.4 for selling.
Euro comes down to 300.2 for buying and 303.2 for selling while British Pound rate stands at 350.6 for buying, and 354.1 for selling.
UAE Dirham AED hovers at 76.2 whereas the Saudi Riyal saw slight increase, with new rates at 74.45.
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