ISLAMABAD Oct 17 Pakistan International
Airlines (PIA) said on Monday it aims to lease up to
eight new aircraft in a move to upgrade its ageing fleet as the
government seeks to turn around the loss-making flag carrier,
long a drag on the federal budget.
A company spokesman said PIA had placed advertisements in
domestic newspapers on Sunday seeking to secure both short- and
long-term leases for wide-body aircraft. The ad, which didn't
disclose financial terms for the leases, specified the airline
is seeking modern planes, made since 2012, with capacity for
more than 250 passengers each.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had made the privatisation of
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) a top goal when he came to
power in 2013. However, those plans were abandoned earlier this
year after crippling strikes by staff protesting against
privatisation, and a new turnaround strategy drawn up.
The government now plans to convert PIA into a limited
company and list a 49 percent stake on the local stock exchange,
meaning it will retain control of the business for at least two
years. After that period, the government could still end up
selling its controlling stake.
In its ad seeking places to lease, titled "Revival of PIA",
the company said it was seeking a short-term "wet lease" of up
to four wide-body aircraft, meaning the planes would come
complete with crew and maintenance staff.
The ad sought a long-term "dry lease" of up to four
aircraft, meaning aircraft without crew. It said the lease term
would be six to eight years.
PIA said the new aircraft must have the latest in in-flight
entertainment services. Outdated planes with poor entertainment
facilities are among frequent complaints made by travellers
The privatisation of 68 state-owned companies, including
PIA, was a major element of a $6.7 billion International
Monetary Fund package that helped Pakistan stave off a default
in 2013. Though some have been sold, many privatisations were
put off until after the next general election, most likely to be
held in May 2018.
(Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan; Writing by Drazen Jorgic;
Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)