PIA - Pakistan International Airlines (PK, Islamabad International) will return under-utilised office space to its owner, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA), as part of its efforts to reduce expenses and prepare the carrier for partial privatisation.

A PIA spokesperson confirmed to ch-aviation that it will hand back excess PCAA-owned office space at the airline's Karachi head office complex.

"With the PIA privatisation process in full flow, it is imperative that un/under-utilised spaces are returned back to the PCAA in order to save on costs," the spokesperson said, adding that the surplus space came about because PIA had shifted many of its offices to a building in Islamabad owned by the airline.

The representative said that in response to discussions with the PCAA, that entity wrote to PIA about the return of office space and gave it the go-ahead. However, the letter was leaked to some Pakistani media outlets, leading to what the spokesperson termed "misconstrued out of context" reporting.

Pakistan's caretaker prime minister, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, recently said that he expects progress regarding PIA's partial privatisation by January 2024. The government wants to establish a public-private partnership with a foreign airline, with that airline taking a 40% stake in PIA in exchange for adding a significant amount of equity and taking day-to-day control of it. Recently, as ch-aviation reported, the government appointed a consortium led by multinational business consultancy firm Ernst & Young to assist with the process.

Separately, European Union Aviation Safety Agency officials are visiting Pakistan to conduct a safety audit on PIA. The agency banned the airline from EU airports in 2020 following a fatal crash and an issue with bogus pilot licences. The four-member team will undertake an on-site assessment, which, if successful, could help pave the way for the carrier to resume scheduled flights to EU airports.