Mystery of PIA Airbus sale deepens

Published: December 17, 2017


KARACHI: The mystery surrounding the sale of Pakistan International Airline’s (PIA) Airbus A-310 deepened, but action is yet to be taken against those responsible for the unscrupulous deal.

The airplane, which flew from Karachi, arrived at Germany’s Leipzig airport via Malta and it was sold there.

PIA served show-cause notices on former senior officers involved in the scam while the airline’s spokesperson said that the airplane was the property of the national carrier and it was sold after tender notices were issued in international and local dailies. The tenders are supposed to be opened on January 18 next year.

A secret PIA inquiry report on the sale of A310 (AP-BEQ) was prepared and relegated to cold storage.

The report was subsequently sent to PIA and aviation authorities on the directions of the chairman of PIA’s board but it is being kept secret.

Senate sub-committee to probe sale of PIA Airbus A-310

The inquiry report showed that three former officers of the airline were involved in the deal, including PIA’s acting CEO Hildenbrand, the Austrian technical advisor Helmut Bachhofner and the former director procurement.

Two of the three officers were served show-cause notices but the third officer was not issued any notice. The inquiry was carried out by the airline’s internal auditor Javed Mansha and legal adviser Ahmed Rauf.

A copy of the fact-finding report was obtained by the Express News. It stated that the jet was flown to Germany much before tender notices for the sale of the airbus were issued.

The report stated that the aircraft was sold for 47,500 euros. The aircraft, although a PIA property, was sold without proper paperwork and without seeking the permission of authorities concerned.

Show-cause notices were served on former German CEO Hildenbrand and technical advisor Helmut Bachhofner in this regard. Hildenbrand had gone back to Germany without responding to the show-cause notice while Helmut Bachhofner’s lawyers had submitted a reply after which he was fired by the airline. The procurement chief has not yet been issued any show-cause notice.

A senate panel also took notice of the issue and questioned the authorities concerned but top officials of the airlines in Islamabad intervened, thwarting action against those responsible for the scam.

It was discovered that PIA had temporarily hired technical adviser Helmut Bachhofner at $15,000 per month and tax on his salary was also paid by the airlines.

‘PIA still owns the A-310 plane taken away to Germany by ex-CEO’

Helmut Bachhofner worked in Pakistan without security clearance. After the sale of the aircraft he returned to Austria.

Upon the insistence of Express Tribune, PIA spokesperson Mashhood Tajwar said that the inquiry report was submitted to authorities concerned. The aircraft, he said, was on a tarmac at Leipzig airport and fresh tender notices for the sale of the aircraft had been published by the airlines in the US, Pakistan and Germany on December 8, 10 and 12 respectively.

He said that parties interested in buying the aircraft had been summoned by PIA on January 19 next year. The aircraft, he added, was PIA’s property, and its engines, spare parts, landing gears and avionics system would also be sold.

The aircraft was cleared to take off by officials of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The aircraft flew after receiving an NOC.

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