A Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) report has revealed that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has not charged overflight fees from any foreign air carrier using Pakistan’s airspace since 2002, faulting top CAA officials with criminal negligence.
According to sources, the CAA secretary had filed a report in this regard to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif a year ago.
The report revealed that many international airlines have used Pakistan’s airspace but for the last 12 years the country had not received any overflight fees, which it was entitled to according to the international civil aviation laws. These fees run into billions of rupees.
The report also claimed that the CAA’s top officials were responsible for this negligence. Taking action on the report, the PM had asked the FIA to investigate the matter and take strict disciplinary action against those responsible.
Later on the FIA director general formed an investigation team – headed by the FIA Additional Director Javed Akbar Riaz – which has completed its preliminary investigation.
According to the findings of the team, the CAA has no record of the foreign airlines that have used Pakistan’s airspace during the last 12 years.
According to sources, the CAA authorities tried to create hurdles in the FIA probe. Despite that, the investigation team managed to find out the relevant data of the last three years.
The data revealed that only one foreign airline – Afghanistan’s Safi Airways – had used Pakistan’s airspace 6,000 times in three years.
When the FIA team pointed out this fact to the CAA, the authority issued a bill of Rs100 million to Safi Airways, which has been carrying out these flights from Kabul to Tehran.
According to sources, following the 9/11 incident air traffic to Pakistan had increased many times. However, during all these years the CAA did not charge any amount from these airlines for some inexplicable reason. Extending the scope of its investigation, the FIA has also sought the record regarding other airlines. Sources said after initiation of the probe, the CAA has also decided to demand Rs1million from a Middle Eastern airline.
The FIA has issued legal notices to more than 20 key official of the aviation body and is investigating from the top officials of the CAA’s traffic regulations, billing and operations departments.
Talking to Daily Express, the FIA investigation team’s head Javed Akbar Riaz said it was a highly technical investigation. “However, the FIA team has managed to unearth irregularities through sheer hard work and the probe is progressing rapidly,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2014.