The BGA Pakistan Team, led by Senior Adviser Aniq Zafar, wrote an update on the government’s plans to privatize the country’s flag carrier.


  • Pakistan has formally launched the tender for a majority stake in its national carrier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), seeking interest from potential bidders by May 3. PIA’s privatization has emerged as the government’s foremost priority and aligns with the country’s commitment to structural economic reforms under the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) loan programs. Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb said the privatization is to be completed by June 2024 as part of a deal with the IMF for the $3 billion bailout.
  • Past attempts to sell a stake in PIA have failed due to political opposition and labor union protests; however, experts believe serious progress has been made this time to achieve the privatization. The previous caretaker government hired financial advisers last November for the stake sale. The government made the decision as PIA racked up losses, projected to reach $550 million in 2023 alone. PIA has recorded staggering losses of $7.1 billion since 2012.
  • Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has directed the Ministry of Privatization to present the final schedule to implement the privatization. The carrier holds rights for 97 international routes and 170 weekly flights spanning across 20 countries. BGA believe the privatization process entails a detailed 30-step plan that could take six months to a year.


  • PIA’s new board approved the privatization plan last month within hours of the newly established PIA holding company, which was a significant step forward in the privatization process. Registration of the PIA holding company with the regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission, is underway and signals the formal commencement of the holding company’s operations. PIA’s assets and liabilities will be transferred to the company.
  • The government has been under pressure from the IMF to act. Discussions with the fund and the Sharif-led government for the final installment of the $3 billion bailout package are contingent on the reform and sale of loss-making state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Although the IMF has reached a staff-level agreement with the government to disburse the remaining $1.1 billion, the new government is still looking to secure another bailout of approximately $6 billion, which will depend on continuing progress in the privatization of PIA.


  • Privatization of the national carrier represents an attractive opportunity for both local and international investors, especially after the restructuring of the airline in which major liabilities of the company have been taken off the balance sheet. Under the partial privatization plan, the government will sell 51 percent of PIA and management rights to the foreign entity. PIA’s board of directors has already approved the privatization and restructuring plan. Last month, the federal Cabinet endorsed the establishment of a holding company to transfer state-guaranteed PIA debt and payables of more than $2.2 billion. These steps were taken to attract investors to PIA.
  • The government has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to confront the financial hurdles posed by underperforming SOEs and is collaborating with partners throughout this critical process. Pakistan financial advisors have briefed international investors regarding PIA’s privatization. Aviation investors from Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia were also contacted for a briefing. These three Gulf countries have shown interest in the privatization of Pakistan’s national flag carrier.

We will continue to keep you updated on developments in Pakistan as they occur. If you have any questions or comments, please contact BGA Pakistan Senior Adviser Aniq Zafar at

Best regards,

BGA Pakistan Team