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Government decides to lease out Islamabad airport

The lack of progress in outsourcing the Karachi and Lahore airports is likely to impact the transaction.

Islamabad, 27 June, 2023 (GNP): The government has decided to lease out New Islamabad International Airport to international investors in the first phase. This decision came after the government faced practical difficulties in outsourcing the Karachi and Lahore airports.

The government is considering outsourcing the New Islamabad International Airport as it has declared as a “clean” transaction compared to other airports. However, there are some practical issues needing resolution before handing over the airport to any international party, top officials said.

The national flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), has outstanding liabilities, and resolving how the new airport operator will handle PIA’s facilities without cost is a major concern.

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According to the officials, certain parts of the Karachi and Lahore airports are occupied by relevant agencies, posing a challenge for potential investors who want to utilize the entire airport for commercial purposes.

“In Karachi and Lahore, certain parts of the airports are occupied by some relevant agencies so that requires a permanent solution because the potential investors would like to utilize the complete airport for commercial purposes,” the officials said.

Furthermore, the Airport Security Force (ASF) is also an obstacle to the transaction. The government aims to complete the outsourcing before August 2023, but it appears to be challenging, the sources said.

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Minister for Finance and Revenues Ishaq Dar chaired a high-level meeting on Monday, instructing the Transaction Advisor and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to expedite the necessary preparations.

“The government has envisaged a deadline for completion of this transaction next month and the World Bank’s IFC has been mandated as Transaction Advisor to come up with a feasible plan,” top official sources confirmed.

Moreover, The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) will work as the Transaction Advisor. The meeting discussed the future roadmap for outsourcing the first airport to enhance service delivery and align with international practices.