Investigation: PIA spills the beans after FIA grilling

Published: April 25, 2014
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Cases under review range from sale of spare aircraft parts to purchase of paper cups and serving drinks during flights. PHOTO: FILE

Cases under review range from sale of spare aircraft parts to purchase of paper cups and serving drinks during flights. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: 

The ongoing probe by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) into the alleged corruption in Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has opened up a Pandora’s Box of shady deals as airline officials are divulging truths and half-truths against each other.

The inquiry, which started late last year, has gained momentum as various PIA officials are being summoned to the dreaded FIA offices for questioning.

Cases under review range from sale of spare aircraft parts to purchase of paper cups and serving drinks during flights, according to FIA letters available with The Express Tribune.

“This was much needed in the case of PIA where all the internal inquiry reports end up in the cold storage,” said an airline official. “But the process is really humiliating as general managers have to wait for hours before questioning begins. They feel like criminals.”

Contracts, which the airline awarded as far back as 2003, are under scrutiny.

These include matters like payment of $72,025 made and subsequently recovered against a fake purchase order, favourable tender for purchase of baggage wrapping machines and preference given to vendors.

Other cases relate to irregular award of contract worth Rs47 million for refurbishment of chairman’s secretariat and executive offices and dirty dealing in purchase of portraits worth Rs3 million.

The national flag carrier has been running losses for consecutive years and its survival depends on government-guaranteed loans. It is generally believed that nepotism and corruption have contributed to the financial crisis.

However, airline executives strongly contest the claim saying that a liberal aviation policy and lack of financial support from its largest shareholder – government – are two key reasons for its current problems.

The FIA probe has added to the pressure on the airline officials, who are already being hammered for PIA’s poor performance.

“I am not saying all of us are clean and there is no indiscretion going on around here but all the cases of corruption put together would make up a small part of our financial woes,” said a senior official.

Often the standard procurement guidelines work against the state-run organisations.

This happened to PIA when it tried awarding a contract for supplying fruit during flights. As per the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority’s rules the award goes to the lowest bidder.

But in this particular case the lowest bidder was a little known company with no credentials. After considering the customer feedback, the tender was awarded to the highest bidder, a multinational brand.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • nepotist
    Apr 25, 2014 - 2:41AM

    So whenever a new government comes in they dig up these old cases to get revenge on the previous government’s loyalists.

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  • Cobra Commander
    Apr 25, 2014 - 9:02AM

    “Liberal aviation policy” Liberals are maligned are all the time :)

    On a serious note, sane and right management decisions would have saved PIA from bankruptcy. Last year a PIA executive spilled the beads that PIA has given out atleast 250,000 free tickets to its cronies in a two year span. I ask you is this because of “liberal aviation policy” or “Liberal ticketing policy”.

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  • Parvez
    Apr 25, 2014 - 2:49PM

    ….and what will happen ?…….NOTHING. Its the same old story : When all are guilty then none re guilty. Except that the country and the people suffer.

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  • Ali
    Apr 25, 2014 - 5:11PM

    Why government run organisations always end in failure.
    The PPP and now the PML-N will stuff them full of their cronies.

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  • Liberal Admi
    Apr 25, 2014 - 5:42PM

    For the Government of Mr Nawaz Shariff to give more money to such petty thieves is tantamount to being a party to the crime …

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  • Ahmed
    May 2, 2014 - 12:39AM

    Completely agree with what the senior official said, corruption is not the biggest issue in PIA but mismanagement is, no matter how much corruption you do within the airline but if the management is proper it wouldn’t go in to such huge losses. Losing customers is one of the biggest reasons for loses and that cant be just because of corruption.

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  • AY
    May 9, 2014 - 7:33PM

    PIA WORST AIRLINE, ISB AIRPORT CORRUPT STAFF, on the scale of 1 to 10 performance i would give PIA minus 5 and that includes my generousity. if privitizing PIA means better service than go ahead.

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