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Inquiries ordered on sale of PIA plane to a museum in Germany

11 October, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Two separate inquiries were ordered on Tuesday into the ‘mysterious’ sale of a Pakistan International Airline (PIA) plane to a museum in Germany.

National Assembly Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to complete probe into sale of a flight-worthy PIA aircraft and present its report to the standing committee in one month.

A calling attention notice was submitted to invite the attention of minister for aviation to a matter of urgent public importance regarding the ‘missing’ PIA aircraft that was used in a film made in Malta wherein the struggle of Palestinians was negatively portrayed. The notice said that the aircraft was used by Israel for filming against Palestinians.

While responding to the notice, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab admitted that the plane was sold to Malta for the shooting of a film. He said that PIA Airbus A-310 was sold to Germany’s museum after the approval of former PIA chief executive officer (CEO) Bernd Hildenbrand. He admitted that irregularities were found in the sale of the plane and that PIA investigation had found Hildenbrand involved in the violations.

The minister told the House that FIA was probing the matter whose report was yet to come. He suggested that the aircraft sale matter should be handed over to the standing committee concerned, to which the deputy speaker directed the FIA to complete the investigation in one month and submit report to the committee.

On the other hand, the issue also remained under discussion in the meeting of the Public Accounts Committee which asked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to probe the controversy surrounding the issue.

Earlier this year, the PAC had found that a PIA plane had gone missing. However, later it was revealed that the plane had been sold to a German museum without necessary permission. No agreements were signed and the PIA did not receive any advance payment for the sale of the A-310.

As the PAC reviewed audit objections in connection with the aviation sector, Chairman Khursheed Shah said that the issue of the ‘missing’ plane brought a bad name to Pakistan. “How come a plane of the national flag carrier reached Germany without any due process?” Shah asked. He ordered NAB to investigate the matter and find out who had ordered the name of former acting chief executive officer (CEO) of the airline, Bernd Hildenbrand, to be removed from the exit control list (ECL).

Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) told the committee that a Malta-based film production company had hired the plane against a rent of $210,000. Later the plane was directly flown from Malta to a museum in Germany. He told the committee that the foreign adviser of the PIA who had finalised the deal was also an employee of the company which was purchasing the plane.

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