The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the federal cabinet has granted approval for Rs8 billion in emergency financial assistance to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) from the resources of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). This decision comes as PIA faces significant financial challenges, with demands for immediate funding and loan restructuring to the tune of Rs25 billion.
The CAA, in a summary presented to the ECC, had sought a substantial Rs25 billion in immediate financial assistance and loan restructuring to support PIA’s operations over the next six months. However, the caretaker government opted for a partial solution by approving only Rs8 billion as a bridge financing option from the CAA’s resources to address the national flag carrier’s emergent financial needs.
A participant in the ECC meeting noted that the approved Rs8 billion would primarily be allocated to make payments, particularly for obligations such as those involving Malaysia and other outstanding expenses. The financial assistance and loan restructuring are deemed critical to keep PIA afloat as it grapples with mounting financial challenges.
PIA’s Ongoing Financial Struggles
PIA’s financial woes have been an ongoing concern, and the airline has previously failed to present a viable restructuring plan. Instead, it has relied on claims of achieving a turnaround, securing financial support with the backing of the Finance Division. The current caretaker government, however, has leveraged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) program’s conditions, particularly focusing on the fiscal deficit and the requirement to achieve a primary surplus of 0.4% of GDP, as constraints for providing further subsidy amounts.
PIA is now facing the possibility of suspension, with the caretaker government’s primary objective being to maintain its operations and subsequently move forward with privatization as swiftly as possible.
ECC’s Decision and Official Statement
Interim Finance Minister Dr. Shamshad Akhtar presided over the ECC meeting, which was attended by senior officials, including the Minister for Privatization, Minister for Planning and Development, and the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Aviation. The ECC’s agenda primarily revolved around the proposal submitted by the Aviation Division, requesting financial support for Pakistan International Airlines through the Civil Aviation Authority’s resources to address the airline’s pressing financial needs.
Following in-depth discussions and deliberations, the ECC approved the Aviation Division’s proposal for bridge financing amounting to Rs8 billion from CAA resources. This financing will be utilized to address overdue payments and fulfill other emergent financial obligations. Additionally, the ECC has granted authorization for the Aviation Division to proceed with the bilateral arrangement between the CAA and PIA, marking a step toward providing the airline with crucial financial assistance during these challenging times.