March 15 , 2017

Aircraft lease: FIA to probe top PIA officials in scandal of billions

Airlines spokesman says management cooperating with investigators

LAHORE: Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has decided to investigate top management of Pakistan International Airline (PIA) in an enquiry of alleged kickbacks, embezzlement and mismanagement, worth billions of rupees, in the lease of aircraft, The News has learnt.

“FIA has sought ex-post permission to probe the top management of PIA for their alleged role in the lease process”, a senior Interior Ministry official, seeking anonymity, confirmed The News on Monday. We have received their (FIA) request and would decide the matter very soon, he added.

The FIA is investigating the lease of PIA Aircraft Airbus A-320 and A-330 to ascertain alleged role of the management in the ongoing enquiry. Sources further alleged that the PIA management has been giving cold shoulder response to certain queries of FIA investigators. The sources further said that the management of national carrier so far couldn’t share certain record which is very important to conclude the enquiry. They said the prevalent situation has been conveyed to the Ministry as well.

The PIA had acquired A-330s from Sri Lanka on wet lease to revive the ever-loss-facing national flag career. The aircraft were to be used for the Islamabad-London Premier Service.

According to sources, the Airbus-330 was acquired on lease for premier service of PIA for which it had paid over $19 million to Sri Lankan authorities in terms of wet lease for the aircraft during a span of six months.

It is further learnt that even during the initial plans for getting planes on lease, some PIA officials had hinted at a possible loss of over Rs 400 million against each aircraft for preliminary three months but even then the PIA management went ahead with the plan and struck the deal.

“In connections with the premier service, the PIA has suffered a financial loss of Rs 1.5 billion during the period from August 14, 2016 till November 30, 2016”, sources further revealed. Reportedly, the PIA losses had shot up to over Rs 300 billion by 2016 as per briefing given to the Senate committee with over Rs 5 billion losses every month.

When contacted Monday, General Manager Public Relations PIA, Danyal Gilani said the management of the national carrier has been providing all the relevant record the FIA investigators have been demanding. “We are cooperating with the investigators”, Gilani remarked, refusing to comment any further on the matter.



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