The Pakistani government plans to offer 51% operational control in PIA - Pakistan International Airlines (PK, Islamabad International) to Qatar to raise funds for the cash-strapped national airline still operating under a five-year business rescue plan, reports The Express Tribune newspaper.

To make this possible, the government intends to change legislation that currently caps foreign ownership of Pakistani companies at 49%.

As part of the deal, the government also intends to offer 51% ownership of the PIA-owned Roosevelt Hotel in New York to Qatar. The hotel, which closed in October 2020 due to financial constraints, is owned by PIA through its investment arm, PIA-Investment Limited.

The proposals were finalised at a high-level government meeting ahead of a state visit by Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to Qatar next week.

Neither PIA nor Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad International) was available for comment at the time of going to press.

The latest plan follows after the government reportedly shelved plans to sell two LNG-fired power plants to Qatar, realising they would not fetch the best price owing to their PKR104 billion rupee (USD486.8 million) debt burden.

As reported, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have already offered to buy minority stakes through the UAE's sovereign wealth fund in Pakistani state-owned companies, including PIA.