Govt has no plans for PIA privatisation: Dar

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Sunday said the government has no plans to privatise Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and is only seeking a strategic partner for the national flag carrier, Radio Pakistan reported.

He said efforts will be made to invite credible and reputed international strategic partners to invest to the extent of 26 per cent in the core business of PIA, adding that no lay-offs will be made in the organisation.

Dar claimed there had been a visible improvement in the airline’s operations as a result of the government’s efforts, pointing out that the number of operational aircraft at PIA has increased from 18 to 38 ─ a figure which, he said, would rise to 40 by the end of December 2015.

The average aircraft age has been reduced from 14 years to nine years, he said, with the government aiming to bring it down even further to six years.

The presidential ordinance recently issued by the government was aimed at freeing PIA management from government control, enabling it to make decisions independently, the finance minister said.

The announcement comes amidst a series of strikes by PIA employees against the proposed privatisation of the national flag carrier.

Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (PIAC) was converted from a statutory corporation into a company governed by the Companies Ordinance, 1984, by means of a presidential ordinance No XVII dated Dec 4, 2015. The new entity is called Pakistan International Airlines Corporation Limited (PIACL), PIA Chairman Nasser N. S. Jaffer confirmed on Dec 6.

Though the PIA management and the government insist that the conditions for its employees would remain unchanged, the workers’ unions and the opposition parties have criticised the move.

Management claims that the airline employees in every grade and category would stand transferred to the company, PIA Company Limited, with the same designation and on the same terms and conditions as they held in PIA Corporation.

The assurances, however, have fallen short of convincing workers and their associations.

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