ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Thursday gave a go ahead for privatising 26 per cent shares of the national flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) in “an open and transparent manner to make it competitive and service-oriented.”

He also directed the Ministry of Privatisation and Civil Aviation Division to initiate the process of privatisation, while ensuring complete transparency, adherence of all relevant codal formalities and guidelines of the superior courts.

This would not only help provide people quality service, but would also improve the overall image of the national flag carrier locally and internationally, said an official press release.

The prime minister gave these directions while chairing a meeting on PIA at the Prime Minister's Office in Islamabad. Sharif said the government was fully committed to reform and restructure all the ailing state enterprises.

He also directed the PIA management to focus on their operational efficiency, cut down their wasteful expenses and promote qualified professionals to compete modern day environment in the air transport industry.

Earlier, while reviewing performance of the PIA, PM Sharif expressed his deep concerns over mismanagement in its affairs and was saddened to observe that the airline had not come up to the expectations of the people.

The premier was also briefed about the problems and issues confronting the PIA, such as its declining service standard, lack of reliability and punctuality, pilferages, lack of quality manpower, training and job rotation, ageing fleet, over-staffing and high loans resulting in heavy financial cost.

He directed the PIA management to cut down its losses in the short term, in order to make it a viable entity for privatisation. The prime minister also directed that all the policy decisions to revitalise the public sector organisation would be made by its board of governors.

Moreover, the premier directed to ensure full transparency in the decision-making process to protect public interest.

The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Information Minister Parvez Rashid, Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and other senior officials.