PIA not being sold: Saad Rafique

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Federal Minister for Railways and Aviation Khawaja Saad Rafique on Monday said that Pakistan International Airline (PIA) was not being sold and offered to anyone.

Addressing a press conference at Allama Iqbal International Airport, here, he said those spreading such rumors should refrain from doing so and added that Roosevelt Hotel in New York was also not being sold.

Saad Rafique said that Islamabad and Karachi airports were being made like that of international model, adding that the airports would be outsourced to ensure best facilities there.

He said that all over the world airports were upgraded on same pattern, adding that the airports would be in ownership of the government, but international practices would be followed for bringing investment and to ensure facilities.

The Aviation Minister said that recommendations were being sent to federal cabinet so that certain part of Roosevelt Hotel could be reopened. He said if it would be delayed then the case of this country’s expensive property would go to landmark commission, adding that if it would be declared as landmark in that case it would lose its value.

Khawaja Saad Rafique said that in future under a joint venture a high rise building would be constructed and the country would fully benefit from it. As per initial proposal work on its 300 to 400 rooms would be started, he added.

Regarding PIA, he said that this year the revenue target of Pakistan International Airline was Rs 138 billion. He said the PIA during current year would earn between Rs 155 to 160 billion.
He further said that PIA management and its entire staff were making all out efforts to overcome problems which PIA was facing.

The fare of PIA was very less as compared to that of Chinese Airline and recently PIA had reduced the fare by 22 percent, he added.

He said due to Covid related restrictions PIA could not directly fly to Beijing and due to which PIA operational expenses were increased.

He said as PIA would get permission for direct flight to Beijing, he hoped that ticket price would further reduce by Rs 100,000.

Speaking about Hajj operation, Saad Rafique said that this time 300 Hajj flights were conducted and 275,000 Hajj pilgrims had been provided travelling facilities. He said Hajj pilgrims were facilitated under city check in formula.

On ocassions of ‘Ashura’ and ‘Arbaeen’ flights were operated to Najaf and Damascus and efforts were being made to improve operation on these routes, he maintained.
He said that quarterly earning of PIA was Rs 50 billion which was highest earning as compared to any past quarterly earnings.

The Minister said efforts were being made to give charge of PEC complex to Ministry of Defence and this would help PIA to save Rs 650 million annually.

About infrastructure, he said, that business class lounges of Karachi and Lahore airports were being renovated and it would be completed by the end of ongoing month.

He said that a latest simulator had arrived in Karachi for A320 planes and this simulator would help save Rs 250 million annually.

He further said that by the end of this month 24 planes would be operational, adding that PIA needed 40 planes including wide-body aircraft and efforts were being made in this regard.

Business class seats of 777 planes were being changed while seats of economy class would be repaired locally. He further said that in coming 90 days new seats would be installed in seven A320 planes. He said a tender had been issued for flight entertainment system so that it could be applied in PIA 777 long haul planes to provide best entertainment to passengers. Regarding Heathrow slots, the Aviation Minister said that the country faced humiliation due to an irresponsible statement of a certain minister.

He said that PIA flights were banned in UK and Europe and added that efforts were being made to overcome this ban. He said, “Efforts are being made that these hurdles get overcome in 5 to 6 months as we have qualified all tests.” He said, “Our delegations had visited Brussels and Montreal to reach out authorities so that Europe and USA could be opened for Pakistan.”

He said, “Our Heathrow slots had been distributed to Saudi, Turkish and one Kuwaiti Airline and as PIA and Pakistani Airlines would get permission to fly for UK, Pakistan would be able to use its slots again.” He said that six flights had been decided with Turkish Airline, adding that PIA planes would take passengers to Istanbul and from there Turkish Airlines would take the passengers to 28 different destinations in?the world.

He termed this settlement with Turkish Airline as a big breakthrough and said that the country would get good revenue as a result of this.

About PIA kitchens, he said the worst kitchen was of Lahore and said that he had been apprised that new contract had been awarded to a big brand after a competitive bidding. Food standard of Karachi kitchen had?improved and distance of Pindi airport kitchen was 35 km and efforts were being made to bring it near to the airport besides improving the quality of food, he added.

He further said that criteria of foreign posting had been upgraded. Khawaja Saad said that at Lahore Airport sitting and cleanliness arrangements had been improved.

To increase the capacity of international lounge a sliding glass door had been installed in domestic lounge and at night it was being used as international lounge, he added. To tackle bird hit issue, efforts were being made so that such equipment could be installed through which this issue could be overcome on permanent basis.

DI Khan and Sukkur airports would be made international, he said and added that Muridke aerodrome would be an alternate of Walton Airport.

He said that unfortunately no work was done on fleet planning, adding that now PIA had been tasked to get small jets so that air connectivity could be ensured in small cities of the country where there were airports. To a question, he said, that PML-N’s mandate was to run institutions smoothly.

To another query, Khawaja Saad Rafique said that country could not afford the politics of allegations. He said it was a high time to focus on country’s development.

He said that those who were using negative tactics just for coming into power would get nothing.

The Minister said that people would only support those who would work for their welfare. (APP)