The government has made the decision to initiate the leasing process of New Islamabad International Airport to international investors in its initial phase. This decision follows the encountered practical difficulties in outsourcing the international airports located in Karachi and Lahore.

Compared to other airports, the New Islamabad International Airport has been deemed a clean transaction, prompting the government to explore outsourcing options as soon as possible.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has also indicated that there are parties expressing interest in managing the operations of all three airports, as mentioned during a presentation to Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar in the federal capital.

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However, expediting the process will not be easy for the government since no airport outsourcing has been formally advertised thus far. Top official sources confirmed that there are practical issues that must be resolved before handing over the airport to an international party.

One major concern revolves around the national flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), which has defaulted on various airport facilities. Even if the government were to assume PIA’s past liabilities, the new airport operator would face the challenge of providing free-of-cost facilities to the carrier.

Furthermore, in Karachi and Lahore, certain sections of the airports are occupied by relevant agencies, necessitating a permanent solution to enable potential investors to utilize the entire airport for commercial purposes. The Airport Security Force (ASF) also poses an obstacle to completing the transaction smoothly.

It remains to be seen how the government will address these challenges. Sources indicate that the government is exerting all efforts to outsource New Islamabad International Airport before the end of its tenure in the second week of August 2023. However, accomplishing this goal within the given timeframe appears to be a challenging task.