Minister tells Senate ex-PIA CEO took plane to Germany

ISLAMABAD: The issue of a ‘missing’ PIA plane was raised in the Senate on Tuesday with Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmad claiming that the former acting chief executive officer (CEO) of the airline, Bernd Hildenbrand from Germany, had taken the plane home while leaving Pakistan.

Senator Tahir Hussain Mashhadi of the MQM raised the issue in the House saying he had learnt that a Boeing plane of the national flag carrier had gone missing.

Confirming that the plane had gone missing, the minister said: “We have also formed a committee to probe the matter but it has not found any clue so far.”

When contacted, PIA spokesman Mashhood Tajwar told Dawn it was not a Boeing plane rather Airbus-A-310. “It’s not missing. It’s in Germany,” he remarked.

Mr Tajwar said the plane had been chartered by a British company for picturising a movie in Malta following which the aircraft flew to Germany. He said the plane had already completed its flying hours and was no longer airworthy. “It’s a 30-year-old aircraft and had already been grounded.”

He said heavy expenses were to be incurred on bringing the plane back to Pakistan and, therefore, tenders were floated to dispose it of what can well be termed a scrap.

In reply to a question, he said the FIA had conducted an inquiry into the matter but the findings had not been shared with the PIA.

The name of the former acting CEO had been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) after a number of charges of corruption against him, including one about selling a PIA’s plane to a museum in Germany.

He had initially gone on leave and was later removed from the post. Apparently, his name was struck off the ECL as he is believed to be in Germany right now.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2017

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