Interim Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has issued a directive to accelerate the privatisation process of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), which has been facing substantial financial losses. This move comes in response to reports suggesting that PIA’s flight operations could be halted by September 15 unless emergency funding is secured. 

In a recent interview with Geo News, a senior PIA director revealed that the airline had reduced its operational fleet from 23 to just 16 aircraft, resulting in numerous flight cancellations. Additionally, major aircraft manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus, had suspended the supply of spare parts to PIA due to outstanding payments, causing daily losses amounting to millions of rupees.  

The dire situation was further exacerbated when a PIA plane was detained at Dammam airport and four others were held at Dubai airport due to unpaid fuel bills. 

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The official cautioned that unless emergency funds amounting to Rs23 billion were secured, flight operations might come to a standstill by September 15. In response to these pressing concerns, Prime Minister Kakar chaired a meeting regarding PIA-related matters and assigned the caretaker Minister for Privatisation, Fawad Hasan Fawad, to oversee the privatisation process with the utmost urgency.  

The prime minister stressed the need for a swift privatisation process to ensure reliable services for users and to bring PIA’s standards in line with global aviation standards. 

Furthermore, the prime minister urged all relevant stakeholders to collaborate in finding immediate solutions to the challenges associated with privatization. The meeting also included a briefing on the progress of the privatisation process at PIA. 

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According to Geo, PIA has been grappling with severe financial difficulties, including the grounding of five out of its 13 leased aircraft, with the possibility of grounding four more due to ongoing financial constraints. The airline had previously requested an emergency bailout of Rs22.9 billion, which was rejected by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC).  

Additionally, requests for deferring payments of Rs1.3 billion per month to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Rs0.7 billion per month to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) were also denied by the ECC.  

Moreover, PIA had warned of potential disruptions in the supply of spare parts by Boeing and Airbus by mid-September. In a further blow, the FBR froze 13 of PIA’s bank accounts due to unpaid dues totaling Rs8 billion in Federal Excise Duty (FED).