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LAHORE: Federal Minister for Aviation and Pakistan Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique has categorically rejected the propaganda that the PIA-owned Roosevelt Hotel in the United States is being sold out.

Addressing a press conference at the PR headquarters here on Saturday, he alleged that a news channel was telecasting fake news about the Roosevelt Hotel. He said that no such thing was even under consideration.

He also rejected that Pakistan’s flag had been removed from the hotel and clarified that national flag was hoisted at the hotel only when any head of state of the country stayed over there. Otherwise, he clarified that only two flags were displayed at the hotel including one of the US and the other one of the hotel in routine days.

He said that the hotel had been closed during the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government tenure due to some reasons. He said that the current administration of the PIA had asked for permission to repair the rooms of the hotel so that financial burden of US$25 million of the hotel could be reduced. He said that decisions would be made only in the interest of the country.

The minister said that the current government, with concerted efforts, saved the hotel from status of a landmark by the US government.

Talking about Pakistan International Airlines, he said that the government was struggling to save it from downfall.

He said that discussions with the European and American institutions were under progress to get rid of sanctions, imposed by these countries after an uncalled far statement of a former minister.

“The PIA is facing loss of Rs 40 billion per year due to an irresponsible statement of the former minister,” he said.

The minister said that ineligibility was as much damaging as corruption.

He said that the PIA had recently earned Rs 2.14 billion from a joint venture with the Turkish Airlines, adding that a proposal from the Emirates Airline for a joint venture was under consideration and he hoped it would be beneficial for the PIA as well as the country if the plan was materialised with the Emirates.

He said that during the current fiscal year, a revenue of Rs 170 billion was expected from the PIA. Unfortunately, he said that the number of aeroplanes had been reduced from 43 to 27 and the current administration was trying to increase the number as at least 40 planes were required to make the airline feasible.

The minister said that two Boeing 777 were getting renovated for induction in the fleet of the airlines soon.

About the Railways, the minister said that the department had requested the government for help after flood crises, and suspension of trains for two months and expressed his hope that the federal government would support Railways, which would ease the business of the department. He said that the PR was expected to achieve its financial target of Rs 64.70 billion.

He said that three more trains would be restored including Greenline, Pakistan Express and a passenger train between Pinddadan Khan and Malakwal. He said that a special luggage train was also under consideration.

“We are in talks with the Ministry of Petroleum for getting maximum transportation of oil through Railways,” he disclosed.

To a question about fare increase, he said that the fares of trains would be reduced with the reduction in petroleum prices. He said that the government was struggling for revival of the department.

To a question, he said that the previous government left the country at the verge of default; however, fortunately the current government had successfully saved it from complete destruction financially. He said that there was no way out left by the previous rulers for the current government other than adopting the IMF programme.

The minister said reduction in inflation was a priority of the government.

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