No plan yet to dispose of Roosevelt Hotel: Aviation Minister.

ISLAMABAD -- The federal government Monday broke its silence on the shuttering of Pakistan-owned Roosevelt Hotel in New York with Minister of Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan saying that there is no agenda or programme under consideration of the government to sell or dispose of the 'iconic' property.

The minister further said that all reports circulating in certain quarters about the prime real estate located in the heart of Manhattan, the financial hub of the world, were mere 'speculations and nothing more than political point scoring.'

Last week, the management of Roosevelt Hotel that is owned by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the state operator, has said it would shut its doors on guests at the end of this month. 'Due to the current economic impacts, after almost 100 years of welcoming guests to The Grand Dame of New York, The Roosevelt Hotel, is regretfully closing its doors permanently as of Oct 31, 2020,' the announcement said.

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On the question of closing down of Roosevelt Hotel, the aviation minister in a statement said that the hotel is 'currently operational and has valid contracts till December this year with various other airlines.' 'Multiple options are being considered for its future and all decisions are made collectively by Hotel's Board and the Government of Pakistan.' The minister reiterated that no individual or company or business concern can or will be able to influence the decisions or its working. 'Every decision shall be taken collectively involving all tiers of the government, with transparency and accountability.'

Explaining the trajectory of PIA's Roosevelt Hotel, Ghulam Sarwar Khan said that PIA had acquired this 19-storey building in 1979 on partnership from its own profits and as a part of airline's diversification strategy. Later, in 1999, it acquired 100 percent shareholding from its own resources and without any aid from the Government of Pakistan. The property has more than a thousand rooms and having an area of 43,313 square feet, covering a whole city block centrally located at the heart of Manhattan area of New York. Right after fully acquiring the hotel, PIA undertook renovation of the hotel and it went into profitability straight away which continued till 2018. However, since 2019, the financial position of Roosevelt Hotel has been in the red, despite the fact that it is run by world's premier Hotel Management Company 'Interstate'...

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