PIA CEO barred from travelling abroad

Published: March 17, 2017
Bernd Hildenbrand. PHOTO: PIA

Bernd Hildenbrand. PHOTO: PIA

KARACHI: Pakistan has barred its national air carrier’s chief executive officer (CEO) Bernd Hildenbrand from travelling abroad on charges of corruption amid hunt for a new CEO.

“Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) CEO’s name is on the Exit Control List (ECL),” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said at a press briefing on Thursday.

He said Hildenbrand is under investigation on charges of corruption as the national carrier had acquired a plane from Sri Lankan Airlines on exorbitant charges than the prevailing market rates.

“PIA had acquired a plane from Sri Lankan Airlines at $8,000 per hour, while another airline had acquired the same type of plane at $4,000 per hour,” the minister said.

There is a huge ‘multidimensional’ corruption in the airlines. The national air carrier has been ruled by darkness, he said.

Amid this and so many other issues linked to Hildenbrand, PIA invited applications for a new CEO and chief operating commercial officer/director marketing on Wednesday through a tender.

Hildenbrand remains a controversial figure since his appointment.

This is not the first time he was barred from leaving the country. In December 2016, he was asked to stay in the country over selling a flight-worthy aircraft (A-310) of the airlines to a German museum at throwaway price.

Besides, Pakistan’s security agencies have not yet given him No Objection Certificate and other clearances to join the airlines. He was denied access to several departments (engineering and hanger) of the airlines since day one.

Name put on ECL

FIA, Deputy Director, Admin Lahore, Khawaja Hammadur Rehman said PIA CEO’s name was briefly put on the ECL on Tuesday after his visa had expired.

His name on ECL has nothing to do with the investigation under way, he said.

FIA Assistant Director, Corporate Crime Circle, Lahore, Muhammad Amanullah Khan said he, along with two of his colleagues, was investigating Hildenbrand for paying higher charges to the Sri Lankan Airlines for acquiring a plane.

He is also being investigated for selling a PIA aircraft at a low price to a German museum. It is believed that he himself bought the aircraft, the FIA official added.

A PIA official, who requested anonymity, said investigations would end with giving a clean chit to the CEO.

“PIA paid comparatively higher rates for the plane from Sri Lankan Airlines because it had acquired the plane on wet lease with pilots, engineers and other cabin crew staff, while other airlines had acquired the plane on dry lease without any staff,” he said.

At the time of filing this report, Hildenbrand was present in Karachi.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2017.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • kemosabe
    Mar 17, 2017 - 10:46AM

    Even if he is guilty of any wrongdoing the diplomatic pressure brought to bear from Hilde’s country will make the authorities here cave in, count on it.Recommend

  • Sodomite
    Mar 17, 2017 - 1:46PM

    German CEO was trying to turn the carrier around whereas all past CEO’s were incompetent, corrupt and made decisions that lost the carrier money consistently. PIA has been destroyed not by Hildenbrand by constant GOP interference and political decision making. Pakistani culture does not permit a foreigner to bring about a change to an airline that has not changed its menu in over 60 years. PIA will die a slow death as the political families want to buy it for close to nothing. We all know the fate of MCB, Habib Bank, KESC, PTCL etc., and other privatizations. Have they benefited the State and its people?? No. They have benefited the new owners of these corporations who have been ripping off the the nation and its people. Recommend

  • Hatim
    Mar 17, 2017 - 3:32PM

    I think he is being prosecuted because he has bought the failings of others in PIA to light. Recommend

  • Jay
    Mar 18, 2017 - 1:39AM

    38 years in Lufthansa and still not good enough for PIA.Recommend

  • Ali S
    Mar 18, 2017 - 11:04AM

    Check this guy’s professional track record, I find the accusations hard to believe. What’s more likely is the corrupt, politically-connected establishment in PIA’s top leadership felt threatened by his attempts to turn the airline around (which mean kicking out their lot) and want him out. Of course, our self-righteous wig-wearing Interior Minister (who loves to lead on distracting self-congratulatory claptrap like Pakistan’s role as the savior of Islam) is glad to do their bidding.Recommend

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