ISLAMABAD: In a significant development during the National Assembly session on Friday, Federal Minister for Aviation, Khawaja Saad Rafiq, responded to concerns raised by Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali regarding the outsourcing of Islamabad International Airport.
Minister Rafiq firmly asserted that private sector involvement yields optimal results in airport management globally. Assuring the assembly, he emphasized that no employee would bear the brunt of this outsourcing decision.
Job security, salaries, and benefits would remain intact for all airport staff, adhering strictly to the law. Minister Rafiq categorically expressed the need to elevate Pakistan’s airports to global standards and avoid turning them into breeding grounds for inefficiency.
The Minister further revealed that excessive recruitments, spanning both dictatorial and democratic regimes, had led to the decision to outsource Islamabad airport for a 15-year term.
The outsourcing will encompass all areas, except the runway and navigation system, which will continue under the Civil Aviation Authority’s purview. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a subsidiary of the World Bank, will serve as a consultant in the competitive bidding process, following the strictest adherence to the Pepper rules. Minister Rafiq announced that similar outsourcing plans were in the pipeline for Karachi and Lahore airports, in alignment with global practices.
While expressing his reservation towards privatization, the Minister acknowledged the imperative of restructuring PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) due to its staggering loss of 80 billion rupees. He stressed that the nation could ill afford the escalating losses, projected to reach 259 billion rupees by 2030 if left unchecked. In a bid to protect the rights of PIA employees, Minister Rafiq assured that the national carrier would transition into a holding company.
However, he cautioned against political maneuvering and urged the private sector to contribute on merit to rescue and transform state institutions into profitable ventures. The restructuring of PIA is seen as a necessary step to attract direct investment and make the airline viable.
Furthermore, recent legislative changes have cleared the path for the restoration of PIA routes, facilitating the resumption of UK flights within the next three months.
As Pakistan’s aviation sector prepares for transformative changes, the nation faces crucial decisions that demand both resilience and honesty. The outsourcing of Islamabad International Airport marks the beginning of a new era, setting the stage for a restructured PIA and enhanced airport services across the country.