PIA - Pakistan International Airlines (PK, Karachi Int'l) has requested a bailout of nearly PKR10 billion rupees (USD64 million) to remain afloat, but the country's government has its hands tied by an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan agreement, Pakistan's Express Tribune has reported.

PIA President and CEO Arshad Malik met Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, finance adviser to Prime Minister Imran Khan, on August 30 to make the appeal and said that the carrier had been able to lay off almost 1,000 surplus employees among other measures to reduce its operational costs, according to a Ministry of Finance press release.

Since coming to power last year, Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has already given the airline two bailout packages totalling nearly PKR38 billion (USD240 million), according to the Express Tribune. But more help is needed to pay for aircraft repairs and foreign loans.

PIA has loans of more than PKR200 billion (USD1.28 billion) to pay interest on, and the government has allocated PKR24 billion (USD154 million) in the budget of the current fiscal year to service these debts.

However, a three-year Extended Fund Facility agreed between the IMF and Pakistan in May does not allow the Ministry of Finance to give further sovereign guarantees backing the airline in its efforts to borrow money from commercial banks, sources in the Ministry of Finance told the newspaper.

By the end of the PTI's first year in power, the combined debt of the country's public sector enterprises surged by 47% to PKR2.1 trillion (USD13.4 billion).