Selling Roosevelt Hotel news is speculation: aviation minister

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ISLAMABAD: The government has no plans to sell the historic Roosevelt Hotel in New York, said Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, terming news about its sale as “speculative” and “misleading”.

The Hotel, a New York city landmark, owned by the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), announced to close its doors permanently last week, after nearly 100 years, due to the coronavirus pandemic and a drop in business activities.

The PIA had acquired the 19-storey building in 1979 on partnership, the minister explained, as reported by the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan. In 1999, the Airlines bought complete shareholding from its own resources and without any aid from the government of Pakistan.

Profits began to slump in 2019, putting the financial position of the Roosevelt Hotel in the red, Khan said. He explained that the main reason for its downfall was a deteriorating infrastructure, which was further compounded by the pandemic.

The minister said the hotel was currently operational and had valid contracts till December this year with various other airlines. Multiple options were being considered for its future and all decisions were made collectively by the hotel’s board and the government of Pakistan, he added.

As per estimations, the cost of basic renovation amounted to $32 million, whereas full renovations required $110 million.

This was unacceptable to the PIA and government of Pakistan, the APP reported.

The PIA management was then able to convince the government to intervene by paying off the loans in one-go and securing the asset.

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