Pakistan Plans to Outsource its Major International Airports in a bid to Improve Services

In a major move, the Pakistan government has decided to outsource its major airports in a bid to bring services up to the international standards.

In the first phase, three international airports in main cities including Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi will be outsourced.

The decision to outsource the airport services in Pakistan had initially been taken during former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s tenure but the project could not be completed as Sharif was dethroned by the court. Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) had also invited international aviation services companies in 2017 to submit bids to run Pakistani airports but the project was shelved due to political turmoil in the country.

However, the PTI government reviewed the project in 2019 and now has decided to go ahead with it.

Cabinet meeting

The Federal Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan after a thorough discussion on Tuesday constituted a committee to prepare a legal framework by June 30 to outsource airports.

Minister of Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz told reporters that the government was looking for some international firm that had an experience to operate and manage the airports.

Objective to outsource

The objective of the move was to bring Pakistan’s airports up to the international standards with the provision of all those facilities that were available at the major airports of the developed countries, he added. The initiative aims to bring improvement in facilities at international terminals. There is a need to improve these facilities in order to promote tourism, investment and a better image of the country, he noted.

The government wants to separate the regulatory structure for the aviation industry and the management. The plan is outsource services and management but keep the regulatory control with the government.

Faraz said the cabinet meeting was informed that some international firms had already shown interest in the matter. “A legal framework will be devised before the tendering process starts,” he added.

The Cabinet committee

The committee is headed by Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan and comprises of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Bukhari, Adviser to the PM on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan, Adviser to the PM on Commerce, Trade and Industry Abdul Razzak Dawood and the Board of Investment (BoI) chairperson as members. The commit will give recommendations by June 30.

Balochistan extends lockdown

Meanwhile, contrary to the federal government’s decision to ease lockdown, the Balochistan government has decided to extend lockdown in the province until June 2.

According to an order issued by the provincial home department, the decision was taken in view of the increasing number of the coronavirus cases in the province. . “All public gatherings, inter-city and inter-province travel apart from religious gatherings will remain banned. Strict action will be taken against violators,” it reads.

COVID-19 deaths cross 1,000

Number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Pakistan has risen to 46,900 while more than 1,000 patients have died and 13,101 have recovered until Wednesday. Sindh province remained the worst hit with 18,964 cases followed by Punjab with 16,685, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 6554 and Balochistan with 2885 cases.

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