Govt trying to find Rs8bn loan guarantees for PIA

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A PIA aircraft is parked at the airport in this file photo. — AFP
  • PIA has 34 aircraft in fleet, out of which two are inoperative.
  • PIA’s revenue has declined to Rs300m.
  • Airline spox says 15 int’l flights, 7 domestic flights to depart today.

ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) suffers from 70% decline in revenue after the cancellation of over 600 flights, the Finance Minister has been scrambling to get Rs8 billion loan guarantees to remain within the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) agreed limits, The News reported quoting sources.

According to the sources, the national carrier experienced a huge decline — around 60% to 70% — in its daily revenue. The airline generated around Rs700 million Rs800 million, which has now reduced to Rs300 million.

There are 34 aircraft in PIA’s fleet, out of which two planes are inoperative because of different reasons. Meanwhile, the airline also doesn’t have the finances to meet its fuel requirements. Following flight cancellation, the national air carrier is now announcing only those flights for which fuel has been procured, as it will ensure operation without any delay.

Last week, the ECC had approved a bridge financing of Rs8 billion through CAA resources that would be used for payment of $25 million liabilities owed to Malaysia for procurement of two aircraft. There was an outstanding amount of $30 million but after tough negotiations, PIA convinced them over payment of $25 million.

PIA had sought Rs24.6 billion for its operational expenses from the government of Pakistan. The Ministry of Finance had initially rejected the demand for this injection on the basis that in the past, PIA came up with financial injections with the commitment to undertake restructuring plan but it was never implemented.

The Privatisation Commission is making all-out efforts to accomplish all required procedures for going ahead with privatisation till December or January. It is yet to be seen how speedily they would be able to accomplish all the spadework and procedures without compromising the objective of transparency.

It would be an uphill task to accomplish the PIA transaction but also keep its operation intact. If it reaches to point of shutdown in its existing shape, its privatisation will not produce the desired results.

The Ministry of Finance has been working on creating a fiscal space and would provide its nod in the shape of guarantees for generating loans of Rs8 billion.

“We might be able to jack up all financial injections up to Rs15 billion but it’s too early to share precise numbers,” said one official, adding that the outcome of the ongoing exercise would be determined this week. The total guarantee limit for PIA stood at Rs262 billion, which was exhausted but later on the airline paid back its outstanding loans. So there was room available to the tune of Rs8 billion at the moment.

There is no easy solution for cash-bleeding PIA in sight but it should be privatised in a manner that it remains afloat for the next three to six months.

PIA to operate 22 flights today

Meanwhile, the PIA spokesperson said that the airline will operate 22 domestic and international flights today. However, 29 flights have also been cancelled today due to the overall situation.

Speaking with Geo News, the spokesperson said that 15 international flights and seven domestic flights will depart today.

“PIA’s flight operations are improving,” the spokesperson said.

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