Pakistan’s Aviation Minister, Khawaja Saad Rafique, delivered a grave warning on Friday about the precarious financial state of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). He highlighted that without swift corrective action, the airline could incur staggering losses of up to Rs259 billion by 2030. To salvage the national carrier from its mounting debts, Minister Rafique urgently called for essential measures, including the transfer of administrative control to the private sector.

Minister Rafique’s concerns were voiced during his address on the Senate floor, where he presented “The Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (Conversion) (Amendment) Bill, 2023.” He stressed the critical need for foreign direct investment (FDI) and the involvement of private entities to ensure the long-term sustainability of PIA, which currently grapples with an overwhelming debt burden of Rs742 billion.

However, the proposal faced strong opposition from several senators during the proceedings. As a result, the Senate chairman referred the matter to the relevant standing committee for further evaluation, acknowledging the significance of FDI and private sector participation in transforming PIA into a profitable entity.

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The deliberations also witnessed PTI lawmakers raising concerns about the quorum, prompting a fifteen-minute bell ringing to meet the attendance requirement. Once the quorum was restored, House proceedings resumed to discuss the fate of PIA.

The key provision of the bill proposes an amendment to Section 3, which specifies that the company’s shareholders would retain the same number of fully paid shares while preserving their existing rights and privileges. Additionally, the federal government could, through an official gazette notification, issue fresh shares or cancel existing ones as needed during the validity period.

The destiny of Pakistan International Airlines now lies in the hands of the standing committee, tasked with thoroughly scrutinising the bill and its proposed amendments. The committee’s decision will significantly impact the future of the struggling airline and determine whether privatisation and foreign investment can pave the way for PIA’s financial recovery.