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PIA’s Roosevelt Hotel leased to NY govt for 3 years against $220m

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  • 1,025 rooms of hotel handed over to NYV government for 3 years.
  • As many as 479 employees are working in the hotel.
  • Initial earnings from the hotel have already started pouring in.

LAHORE: Minister for Aviation and Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique said Sunday that a contract has been signed with the New York City government to operate the renowned Roosevelt Hotel of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) situated in New York for three years.

In a press conference held at the Allama Iqbal International Airport, the minister said that revenue of $220 million would come to the country as a result of the agreement.

Giving details of the agreement, he said that 1,025 rooms of the hotel would be handed over to the New York City government for three years and the initial earnings from the hotel had started pouring in.

Under the agreement, one-year business was guaranteed. However, he hoped the hotel business would continue for all three years.

He said there were several issues involved in the Roosevelt case like the hotel was at risk of being declared a landmark after which the building could not be altered.

However, now the danger had subsided for at least three years. The minister said that earlier, the hotel had been closed since the COVID-19 period, and an amount of $25 million was being spent on the closed building and $20 million were pending as liability.

He said that 479 employees were working in the hotel, which was a big number, and it was difficult for the hotel to terminate them from jobs due to US labour laws.

However, now after the agreement, this number would be decreased to 77 at the end of the contract period. He thanked the New York City government for its cooperation.

Privatisation

Regarding the outsourcing of airports in Pakistan, the minister said that three international airports, Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, were being outsourced and made it clear that outsourcing did not mean privatisation.

In a first, the Islamabad airport would be outsourced. He said that only the operation of the airports would be outsourced and not the land or property.

As a result of the arrangement, new contractors would develop, improve and operate the airports, and after the completion of the agreement period, the contractors would hand over the airports to the government again.

He said the current administration had put it on track and soon agreements would be signed with the best international airport operators. A credible company, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank, had been given the task of outsourcing the airports as no Pakistani company had experience in this regard.

He said that several airports, including Madina Munawwarah, Istanbul, Dubai and others, were being operated through the model being introduced in Pakistan now.

The minister said that the contracts would be given through open bidding and several international contractors were showing interest in this regard.

He clarified that no employee would be expelled from service.

Upgradation

Rafique said that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) was also launching high-profile projects in which runways at the Quetta Airport would be reconstructed and upgraded.

He said the Faisalabad runway was already under construction which would be operational soon and Lahore airport’s runways would also be upgraded.

Rafique said that upgrade work of the Karachi Airport was already undergoing while Gwadar International Airport was also under construction and would become operational soon.

For the first time, the Hajj operation from the Quetta Airport was successfully in process and the people of Balochistan were going for Haj through this airport.

Two more airports, Sukkur and Dera Ismail Khan, would be converted into international airports to facilitate the citizens of the area.

Plane impound

Discussing the issue of a B777 of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) stopped by the authorities in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the minister said that the issue was resolved by the legal team of PIA in 72 hours and now the plane had reached Pakistan after carrying the passengers.

Giving details, he said the aeroplane was a leased aircraft and the owner company unethically went to the Malaysian court where the court seized the flight in an ex-party decision.

PIA was not heard, he said, adding that if the court had heard PIA, the incident would not have happened.

He thanked the Malaysian ambassador in Pakistan for his cooperation.

He said PIA was a complicated case, adding that several steps were needed to upgrade the department. Some improvements had been made in the flights like better food quality, seating and services, but it needed several other things.

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US envoy urges deeper strengthening of relations with Pakistan

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The significance of strengthening relations with Pakistan was highlighted by US Ambassador Donald Blome on Thursday.

Blome visited the Chaukhandi cemetery in Karachi, based on the information. President Donald Blome and other delegates were cordially welcomed by Sindh Minister of Culture and Tourism Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah on this particular occasion.

Narendra Kumar, Heather Murphy, and Zahra Hajiani were among the delegation members who visited Chaukhandi Graveyard’s historic tombs with the American envoy, Acting Consul General Jimmy Mauldin.

Highlighting the rich historical significance of Chaukhandi graveyard, Minister Zulfiqar Ali Shah shared his ideas with the US ambassador.

Blome highlighted the Chaukhandi tombs for their exquisite craftsmanship and architectural design. He promised to help Pakistani visitors with their visa requirements.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), he promised to promote the nation’s historical sites.

In the meantime, Shah stated, “The Sindh government is taking steps to provide all sorts of facilities to the tourists.”

Pakistan will receive additional assistance from the US to lower methane gas emissions.

The US decided to help Pakistan lower its methane gas emissions earlier this month.

At a USAID Climate Financing event, US Ambassador Blome stated: “We are working very hard to lower methane gas emissions from dairy farming. The Green Climate Fund in Pakistan will be consulted for funding this initiative.”

“As of 2030, there are global efforts to reduce the temperature by 1 degree Celsius. The US-Pakistan Green Alliance is being followed by the collaboration with Pakistan, according to Blome.

“The problems can only be addressed by providing the stakeholders with financial and technical resources,” he continued.

The government’s first aim is to revitalise the cattle industry, according to Federal Secretary Dr. Fakhre Alam. Raising dairy farming’s production capacity will help it overcome its environmental problems.”

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Shehbaz travels to the UAE in order to strengthen trade relations.

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This visit, which is being accompanied by a high-level delegation made up of important ministers such as Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Commerce Minister Jam Kamal, Information Minister Ataullah Tarar, and advisor Tariq Fatemi, is intended to strengthen bilateral ties and expand cooperation between the two countries.
Prime Minister Sharif will visit President Muhammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi. The high-level gathering will cover Pakistani and UAE bilateral relations, with an emphasis on commerce and investment.

Along with exploring strategic alliances and shared interests that can help their respective nations, they are also expected to concentrate on talking about ways to advance collaboration across a range of industries.

Prime Minister Sharif has talks planned with other Emirati leaders, businesspeople, and heads of financial organisations in addition to his diplomatic engagements. In an effort to promote economic cooperation and draw in investment, he is also scheduled to meet with businessmen and investors from Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.

The Shehbaz intends to encourage UAE companies to extend their operations into the Pakistani market by interacting with influential businesspeople and highlighting investment prospects in Pakistan.

These exchanges will offer a forum for talking about doable ways to strengthen business relations and carry out initiatives that will benefit both parties. Pakistan’s determination to enhance its political and economic ties with the United Arab Emirates is demonstrated by the visit.

After ending his day-long journey to Iran to offer condolences for the terrible death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his entourage in a helicopter crash on Sunday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has returned to Pakistan.

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Memon accuses temporary government of ‘delaying’ the BRT Red Line project

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On Thursday, Sindh Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon accused the interim administration of “delaying” the Red Line project of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

Memon stated what he thought, saying, “The BRT Red Line project was mission impossible. However, the project has now begun to be worked on.”

“The reason government is formed is to solve the issues that the people face. “The government is working tirelessly to bring relief to the masses,” he declared.

Memon declared, “It’s also being done about the unlawful bus stands. The passengers will have access to shuttle service from us.”

“A large number of transport projects have already begun. “We aim to ensure that every individual receives a chance to work,” he continued.

Pakistan was ‘started to damage’ by the founder of PTI.

Memon reported on Thursday that a campaign to hurt the nation was started by the founder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Memon said at a Karachi event: “Israel discusses the human rights violations in Pakistan. Israel, a party to the Palestinian holocaust, is endorsing the PTI’s founder. Israel has provided election funding to the PTI’s founder.”

“The worst election tampering in 2018 produced the PTI founder’s victory. Police officers, the parliament, and the PTV were all attacked,” he claimed.

“The entire country was closed due to a 126-day protest,” Memon claimed.

The PTI founder was made fun of by Memon, who said, “The PTI founder had always embraced the politics of anarchy.”

Memon stated the following when discussing the state of law and order in Sindh: “The Sindh government is serious about the state of law and order in the province. In terms of keeping Sindh peaceful, everyone is in agreement.”

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