The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is planning to privatise the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA)-owned luxurious Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan, drawing the ire of opposition members and the general public for “attempting to sell an asset of the national carrier worth billions of dollars”.
The 19-storey hotel with 1,025 rooms plus allied facilities in New York City, with some of the suites being among the most luxurious available in Manhattan, is considered a valuable property that also carries cultural significance for Pakistan.
Standing on the corner of 45th Street and Madison Avenue, in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, the hotel bears a quintessentially American name in honour of former United States (US) President Theodore Roosevelt, who had previously been the governor of New York State.
It has remained in news for the last several years for its proposed auction. However, the management of PIA always rejected such claims.
The said hotel was acquired by PIA Investment Limited on lease during the year 1979 with an option to purchase the property. PIA had purchased the hotel against $36.5 million against a demand of $59.5m by contesting a lawsuit against the owner in 1999. The Interstate Hotel and Resort is managing the Roosevelt Hotel since 1997.
According to a notification issued Monday — at a time when the federal government is reportedly at odds with the national carrier after Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan’s statements regarding PIA pilots having “dubious” licences –, the privatisation of the hotel was discussed in a meeting of the cabinet committee on privatisation on Wednesday.
The meeting was chaired by Adviser to Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, stated the notification issued a day before the meeting.
It has, however, not been very well-received by the Twitterati.
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