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Pakistan‘swiftly’ to privatise airports. Transparency essential

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The Indian subcontinent has not been a happy hunting ground for international operators of, and investors in, airports.

In India they were limited to minority investments in the main gateways, the goalposts were moved too often during the bidding procedure, and subsequent tranches have been difficult to negotiate because the government seems unsure of the value of privatising them. Some major companies have pulled out along the way or since they invested.

In Bangladesh security concerns scuppered an early attempt to privatise a major city airport, and in Sri Lanka the public sector development of a new national-level airport was dictated by political concerns.

Now, of all times, Pakistan reveals that it wants to find private-sector investors to improve the profitability of the few airports that are profitable. But the involvement of any private organisation, especially foreign ones, is fraught with challenges, and to help attract them, the government must be open from the start about its objectives.

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