PIA to appear before London, Malaysian courts over lease payment issue: aviation minister


A PIA aircraft seen parked on a runway. — AFP/File
  • Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan says PIA failed to pay the lease on time due to coronavirus
  • Says PIA will appear before a London court on Jan 22 and a Malaysian court on Jan 24
  • Says the airline will then “accept the decision of the courts”

RAWALPINDI: Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan on Saturday said Pakistan International Airline (PIA) failed to pay the lease of the aircraft that was held in Kuala Lumpur on time due to the coronavirus pandemic and the Malaysian court issued an order without listening to any arguments by the airline.

During a media briefing in the city, the minister said PIA officials will appear before a London court on January 22 and before a Malaysian court on January 24 after which the national carrier would “accept the decision of the courts”.

PIA had acquired the plane on an expensive lease during the PML-N tenure, he added.

Read more: Spokesperson says airline’s stance not considered in UK court

The minister said the government believed in taking practical steps for the welfare of the common man.

He said that the government had announced a 110-km long Rawalpindi Ring Road project which would not only help resolving traffic issues but also create job opportunities and give a boost to economic activities in the area.

Sarwar said an amount of Rs6 billion has been credited to Rawalpindi administration in that regard and hoped that the project would be initiated before June 2021.

He said five small dams including Daducha, Mujahid, Papin, Chehan and Mahuta Mohra are being constructed in Rawalpindi to meet the irrigation needs of local farmers and these would also be helpful to overcome water shortage issues.

Sarwar said that Rs50 million were approved for a plan to solve the issue of low gas pressure in the twin cities while practical work has been started in that regard.

Replying to a question about the upcoming Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) protest, in which Opposition parties will gather outside the Election Commission of Pakistan on January 19, he said holding a protest is everyone’s right but it should be held under the law and democratic norms.

“The people have rejected the narrative of PDM,” he remarked.

Later, the minister also inaugurated the gas supply project to the seven villages of Takht Padi Union Council of Rawat.

PIA Boeing 777 seized at Kuala Lumpur airport

Malaysian authorities on Friday seized a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Boeing-777 at the Kuala Lumpur airport.

The PIA plane was seized on the orders of a local Malaysian court over the non-payment of aircraft lease dues, sources disclosed.

PIA had leased two planes, including the Boeing-777, from a Vietnamese company in 2015.

The plane was seized after passengers were already on board. The aircraft’s 18-member staff also became stranded in Kuala Lumpur due to the seizure, and will now quarantine for 14 days as per protocols, the sources said.

“The passengers are being looked after and alternate arrangements for their travel have been finalised,” read a tweet shared by PIA on its official account.

Read more: Malaysian authorities seize PIA Boeing 777 at Kuala Lumpur airport

Case against PIA for non-payment of lease dues

Sources told Geo News that the leasing company had filed a case against PIA in a UK court in October 2020 for its failure to pay the leasing fee, worth about $14 million, which had been pending for a period of six months.

In response, the PIA had maintained that since the COVID-19 pandemic had seriously affected the aviation industry, there should be a reduction in the overhead charges.

In the meanwhile, the leasing company kept an eye on the activities of PIA, and as soon as it received the information of Flight 895’s scheduled landing in Malaysia, it appealed to the Malaysian court to seize the aircraft as per the international civil aviation leasing laws, sources added.

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