PIA is up for sale, and there’s a six-way battle for who will take the prize

Four different airlines, power producers, and real estate developers are all in the running to buy PIA when the airline is finally privatised

It’s finally happening. For years there has been a constant struggle for the privatisation of Pakistan International Airlines. Three successive governments over the past decade have introduced plans to privatise PIA, they have claimed they were committed to the process, and everytime the plans have fallen through either to politicisation, bureaucratic red taping, or governmental hubris. 

The process has never gotten this far. Now that it has, the fate of every single Pakistani airline hangs finely in the balance.  

Last month, at least eight bidders submitted qualification statements to express their interest in acquiring the airline from the government. This month, two of those initial bids were rejected. No single known company or individual stands out because all eight bids were placed by newly formed consortiums.

At least four different Pakistani airlines including Fly Jinnah, AirSial, Serene Air, and Air Blue were all part of these eight consortiums. For the airlines this is a matter of survival. PIA currently has the largest fleet and the largest domestic and international network in Pakistan. The national flag carrier is the market leader in Pakistan’s airline industry, and control of it means having a significant advantage over other airlines. 

One of two things could happen. The first is that a conglomerate with an airline involved could take over and automatically become the market leader. The other option would be a conglomerate without any airline involvement to take over and a new entity is born and PIA’s position stays the same. In either case, the changes will shake up Pakistani aviation. 

Who are the challengers vying for PIA? Members of these consortiums include four different airlines, power producers, chemical manufacturers, and real estate developers. And as the process goes on, many of those involved in these multiple consortiums may well drop out and the composition of these consortiums could also change along the way.

The only question is, who are the people behind these consortiums wanting to buy PIA, and just how uphill is the task that faces them if they get what they want.

 

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Abdullah Niazi
Abdullah Niazi
Abdullah Niazi is senior editor at Profit. He can be reached at [email protected]

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