Pakistani reports suggest that a $5 billion investment from Qatar could lead to Qatar Airways having a stake in and running Pakistan International Airlines and running the three largest airports in Pakistan, Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad.
The sources revealed that the technical negotiations on the points of agreement have been going on since 4 September 2022. The points under discussion include on-flight services, flight fleets, and airport services. Moreover, ticketing, airport maintenance, flight management, and the terminal lease will not be part of the agreement.
The sources further said that investment in the Pakistan Stock Exchange will be part of the new deal.
Both Etihad and Emirates sniffed around the carrier, since the both pick up significant traffic from Pakistan. Those carriers walked away from the investment, and in 2019 the government of Pakistan gave up its efforts to privatize the loss-making carrier.
Given the political strength, militance, and corruption of some of PIA’s work groups, there are expected to be carveouts in the deal that would have been insurmountable stumbling blocks in any integration. (Past privatization efforts have led to violent protests and clashes with police.)
Pakistan International Airlines is the worst airline in the world. Best known for sacrificing a goat for safety and flying with more passengers than seats (and making customers stand for 1700 miles), the airline’s former CEO was actually detained as a result of his efforts to provide good seats and service by wet leasing aircraft from SriLankan.
Boeing 777 on Approach to New York JFK in 2014, Copyright zhukovsky / 123RF Stock Photo
The airline is so bad that even operating on time creates problems: customers build failure into their expectations and don’t actually show up for flights when they’re scheduled to depart. Shortly before the pandemic PIA had one of its planes repossessed, while passengers were still on board.
Nonetheless, the Pakistan market is a large one and one of the drivers behind the new United Airlines partnership with Emirates. If this deal comes to fruition, then to the extent Qatar integrates PIA into its operations then it could benefit from the Doha-based carrier’s other airline investments and oneworld partnerships to take significant market share away from Emirates.