PIA’s property in New York not taken over, Senate body told

CEO of the national flag-carrier regrets the issue has been misinterpreted in the media


Waqas Ahmed October 14, 2021
PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) property in New York has been neither taken over nor attached by anyone as the case is still under trial and no final decision has been announced as yet.

This was stated by PIA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Air Marshal Arshad Malik while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Aviation on Wednesday.

The committee meeting, chaired by Senator Hidayat Ullah, was apprised in a comprehensive briefing that in the year-2020 PIA faced a total loss of Rs35.354 billion including the burden of ‘legacy debt.’

When questioned about the Roosevelt Hotel in New York, the PIA officials requested an in-camera meeting, saying the issue has already been misinterpreted and misconceived through the media.

However, the PIA authorities put it on record that the property had not been taken over nor attached by anyone.

They said the property was initially taken over by the bankers temporarily due to some financial liabilities of Roosevelt Hotel Corporation including payment of local taxes and utilities. “Now all dues are paid and the case is under trial,” informed the PIA officials.

In their briefing to the committee members on the profits, the officials said the national flag-carrier had generated Rs94.989 billion revenue and suffered a loss of Rs680 million during the year 2020.

The PIA officials told the lawmakers that a 10-year performance audit and statistical analysis was conducted with a comprehensive business plan 2019-2023 aimed at operational turnover towards profitability and balance-sheet restructuring for addressing the legacy debt.

They said coronavirus had badly hit the aviation sector that halted its operation by around 60 per cent.

The officials further told the panel that PIA had recovered $412.0 million from the Airbus which was not pursued by previous regimes and also resolved a claim of $4 million from Air Asia.

The officials said the PIA had terminated 814 employees on fake credentials and tracked 700 bogus daily-wage employees and removed them from service.

Read PIA mulls ‘halting’ Kabul operation

They said the national flag-carrier was also in the process of enhancing tourism-related flights by 300 per cent in line with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to promote tourism activities in the country.

The PIA has introduced new routes to Gilgit from Lahore, Karachi, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Multan besides Launching Air Safari Flight in partnership with Shangri-La Hotels for diplomats.

The body was informed that the PIA was inducting a simulator to reduce training cost as an initiative for 2022 and 2023, and also implementing Engineering MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Operations) project mostly for commercial activities.

The matter of the ban imposed by the European Union on flight operations of PIA was also discussed by lawmakers. The PIA officials said the delay in ban-lifting was due to a delay in the audit.

“The ICAA kept pursuing the ICAO to conduct Audit at an early time frame; the ICAO announced the audit in July 2021 which was postponed due to Covid-19. The ICAO has announced the new schedule for the audit from 29 November 2021 till December 10, 2021. The resumption of flights to the European Union will take place, after the Validation Audit.”

Among others, the meeting was attended by Senators Faisal Saleem Rahman, Raza Rabbani, Sherry Rehman, Aon Abbas, Mohsin Aziz, Saleem Mandviwala and Afnan Ullah Khan, besides Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan, senior officials from Aviation Division and PIA.

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