ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is working on a plan to outsource the airport management system of Pakistan, in order to improve international terminals that gave a deserted look due to poor facilities.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had sought a briefing from the Aviation Division on outsourcing the management system, sources told The Express Tribune.
Officials said that the existing plight of the airports, especially international terminals, was critical, as it gave a deserted look compared to other international cities. Now, the PTI government wants to work on a comprehensive policy to improve international airports involving all stakeholders and technical experts.
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, officials said.
The plan of outsourcing the airport management system of Pakistan is a part of the PTI government’s agenda to bring innovation and improvement at international airports, said an official at the Aviation Division.
The separation of regulatory structure for the aviation industry and management and land functions are under active consideration under the new aviation policy and a report will be submitted to the prime minister within a month. Aviation Division spokesperson Abdul Sattar Khokhar said the plan is being discussed to outsource system; however, operational and regulatory control would be kept with the government. He said that maintenance of building, parking and passenger services would be outsourced to qualified firms.
The Aviation Division shall complete codal formalities to separate regulatory functions of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) from estate and airport management and furnish a compliance report to the prime minister within one month. The government has also drafted a new aviation policy, as it feels the previous aviation policy, framed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government, had not brought any improvement in the sector. The new policy has been drafted following a request from the national flag carrier.
The national aviation policy was earlier launched in 2015 with a view to bring healthy changes in the aviation sector of Pakistan. However, due to some reasons, the policy could not trigger desired positive changes.
The aviation sector has faced different problems, which have hindered development. A presentation was given to the prime minister on March 14, 2019. The national flag carrier – PIA – pointed out different issues like extremely high cost of doing business, high paid capital and requirements, unfavourable land lease and rent policy, and high charges levied by CAA and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), which together contributed towards downfall of the sector.
PIA had informed the prime minister on January 1, 2019 that the national aviation policy should be reviewed critically and comprehensively to support the aviation and airline industry of Pakistan. High rate of charges levied by CAA on domestic airlines for the use of facilities needs review and rationalisation for the comfort of doing business in the aviation industry.
It urged reviewing the open skies clauses and associated air services agreements under the national aviation policy, including routes, slots and capacity accorded to foreign airlines, which have been discriminatory and disadvantageous to the national flag carrier.
The draft policy, aimed at ensuring growth of Pakistan’s aviation business, creates new business opportunities with a widening base, which in turn would increase revenue and attract direct and indirect investments, along with creating job opportunities. Another important aspect is to safeguard the interest of national and other domestic carriers against unhealthy competition, while at the same time, provide incentives to international carriers for making Pakistan a dream destination.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2019.