Govt to outsource two airports to foreign investors

ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday unveiled a plan to outsource at least two major airports of the country to potential foreign investors.

The decision was announced during a meeting presided over by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Razak Dawood.

The commercial operation of the airports will be outsourced and finalised recommendations will be forwarded to the federal cabinet for taking final decision.

The meeting deliberated upon two aspects of airport operations, namely regulatory part of Civil Aviation Authority and the commercial part of operations. The meeting was the first of the committee formed by the cabinet on outsourcing of major airports of Pakistan, according to an official statement. Adviser to PM on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan, PM aide Zulfikar Bukhari, and Secretary Aviation Division attended the meeting. Board of Investment Chairman Atif Riaz Bokhari participated through video link.

During the meeting, various options, along with the associated legal aspects were discussed in detail, keeping in view the segregation of regulatory and commercial sides.

Representatives from the Privatisation Commission were also consulted during the meeting on their perspective regarding the available options for outsourcing of airport operations.

Referring to the importance of outsourcing of commercial operations of airports in Pakistan, Dawood said there is a big potential in the airport-related commercial activities, which can be exploited by bringing in knowledge and experience from major international experts in the aviation industry.

“The gap in non-aeronautical activities at major airports of Pakistan, including duty free shops, restaurants and commercial outlets, can be efficiently filled by such expertise, thereby bringing our airports at par with leading airports globally,” said Dawood, apprising the meeting of the interest being shown by different global investors in Pakistani airports.

The adviser said the international best practices would be ensured in overall operation and management of various activities by bringing in international investors and generating an overall goodwill of Pakistan among various stakeholders as well as in the aviation industry around the world.

Underlining the significance of bringing in foreign investment, Dawood said the foreign direct investment always acts as a catalyst to socioeconomic development in the country, as it results in creating thousands of jobs in the country. “The move would restore the confidence of private sector of Pakistan as well, who will, in turn, also invest in airport related industry.”

After deliberations, the committee decided to meet again after one week to finalise proposals for the cabinet.

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