Deputy Speaker in National Assembly Murtaza Javed Abbasi on Tuesday directed Federal Investigation Agency to complete probe into sale of flight-worthy Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft and present its report to the standing committee in one month.
Member of National Assembly Aliya Kamran submitted a call-attention notice over the issue which says that the aircraft was used by Israel for filming against Palestine.
While responding to the notice, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed admitted that the plane was sold to Malta for the shooting of film but were paid the rent in Pakistani rupees.
He said that PIA Airbus A-310 was sold to Germany’s museum after the approval of former PIA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bernd Hildenbrand.
He asserted that irregularities were found in the sale whereas PIA investigation found Hildenbrand involved in the violations. The minister told that FIA is also probing the matter while the report is yet to come and has not been shared with the PIA authorities.
He notified that PIA has suffered a loss of Rs2 billion as revealed by a temporary audit. Sheikh Aftab Ahmed suggested that the aircraft sale matter should be handed over to standing committee over which the deputy speaker directed FIA to complete the investigation in one month.
On the other hand, the issue also remained under discussion in the meeting of public Accounts Committee. Opposition leader while expressing resentment over the sale termed it as the biggest corruption in PIA history.
“Who let the culprit escape out of country despite the inclusion of name in ECL. FIA authorities are themselves very inefficient. This matter should be interrogated,” he said.
In September, PIA named Musharraf Rasool Cyan as its new chief executive, entrusting him with turning around the national carrier’s fortunes after a turbulent year.
Cyan, who PIA described as a ‘professional technocrat’, will face an uphill task in returning the airline to profitability and improving the carrier’s reputation which was dented by a plane crash in December 2016 and allegations of financial mismanagement.
The domestic flight crashed in the mountainous Chitral region in December, killing all 47 people on board, which raised concerns about the carrier’s safety record. The company’s chairman Azam Saigol resigned soon after the crash.
Cyan’s appointment follows the removal of the carrier’s German chief executive Bernd Hildenbrand, who was ousted in April this year after authorities launched a corruption investigation into leasing of planes from a Sri Lankan carrier and selling a flight-worthy aircraft to German museum at cheap rate.
— with input from Reuters.