Outsourcing of airports

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IN what could be called a step in the right direction, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday issued directives calling for initiating the process of outsourcing the management of three major airports in the country.

Chairing a meeting held to discuss matters pertaining to aviation and airports, the PM gave a go ahead for outsourcing of Jinnah International Airport Karachi, Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore and Islamabad International Airport under the public-private partnership.

The previous government of PML-N as well as that of the PTI had also announced plans in this regard but these could not be implemented for various reasons including the threat hurled by Aircraft Owners and Operations Association for moving the court against it.

Whilst the outsourcing process needs to completed in a transparent manner through competitive bidding, we understand there is no harm in pursuing this course as this will not only bring revenue to the government but also help increase the efficiency of our airports as well as the customer satisfaction.

The aviation industry these days is a major contributor to socio-economic development. We have before us the example of Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports which have become transit hubs because of all kind of facilities provided to the passengers there.

These airports in fact have become a face of the UAE and portraying a positive image of the country.

In Pakistan, all commercial airports other than Sialkot International Airport are owned and managed by the CAA and these are facing issues like reduced efficiency, slow commercial activities, future development challenges, capacity building of human resource and customer dissatisfaction.

In this backdrop, the government has taken a right decision to also involve the private sector which we believe will increase efficiency, quality of service, revenue streams through increased traffic and through commercial activities other than the pure aeronautical activities.

Many airports around the world are already successfully using different models of Public-Private Partnerships for airport management.

We should also emulate the best keeping in view our requirements. Doing so we understand we can also go a long way in truly exploiting the country’s tourism potential.

At the same time, efforts should be accelerated to enhance the revenue of PIA by bringing into use all its resources including those abroad in order to revive the old glory of the national flag carrier.