Pakistan has initiated a public-private partnership to outsource operations and land assets at three major airports in an effort to generate foreign exchange reserves and boost its struggling economy.
The outsourcing process is being supported by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, which will act as an advisor.
In a statement released by Pakistan’s finance ministry on Thursday, the outsourcing initiative will engage a private investor/airport operator through a competitive and transparent process to run the airports, develop associated land assets, and maximize revenue potential.
While no official agreements have been made, Pakistan has been in talks with Qatar to jointly run terminals at the airports in Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visited Doha last year to secure Qatari investment in Pakistan’s energy and aviation sectors, resulting in a commitment by the Qatar Investment Authority to invest $3 billion in the country.
Pakistan’s aviation sector has been facing significant challenges, with the national flag carrier incurring losses of almost $1.41 billion.
The country’s central bank reserves are so low that they barely cover four weeks of imports, and Pakistan is currently facing a severe balance of payment crisis. Islamabad has been engaged in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund to secure critical funding, but so far, these efforts have been unsuccessful.
The outsourcing initiative is expected to create more commercial opportunities and generate revenue for the cash-strapped nation of 220 million people. However, no details of the partnership or agreement have been made official, and the outsourcing process is still in its early stages.