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PIA admits to bribing officials in Jeddah

15 November, 2011

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) officials have admitted that they have been paying bribes to General Authority of Civil Aviation of Saudi Arabia to get waivers of penalties that the Saudi authorities have been imposing for different violation by PIA during Hajj Operation 2010, documents reveal.

PIA explained in a press release three days ago that the airline interacts with the international aviation community in conformity with the standard business practices and do not indulge in unethical means. Saudi Arabia is a trusted friend of Pakistan and PIA has cordial relations with the Saudi Aviation official as the airline every year undertakes major Hajj operations, which are correctly supported by the Saudi Civil Aviation.

He said that the inquiry in the matter of purchase of gifts was already in progress any action in the matter will depend on the findings of the inquiry.

When the spokesman of PIA Syed Sultan Hassan was contacted again on Monday, he said that an inquiry is being done into the issue. He, however, showed his ignorance about any letter written by country Head PIA in Saudi Arabia in which he had confessed of paying bribe to Saudi officials.

However, documents show that the Country Manager PIA in KSA Shahbaz Ahmad, in a letter dated 18, September 2011, confessed that giveaways items worth SAR 337100 were purchased for Saudi officials during the Hajj Operation 2010 to get the fines imposed on PIA waived off.

He has also mentioned that the fine of SAR 200000 imposed on the late flight of Interior Minster A Rehman Malik has also been waived off due to ‘good relations' with the Saudi officials. He has refused to name the officials who have been paid the bribes saying it was confidential.

"The country manager visited head office and appraised the management about difficulties being foreseen in Hajj Operation regarding suitable slots timings, availability of Bays applicable penalties advised by GACA on different violations by operating carrier and requested Management approval to authorize SAR 0.3-0.4 million for purchase of giveaways to be distributed among officials/staff of GACA, PPMDC and Immigration and Custom authorities vide emails dated 04- and 13 October, 2010 to ensure smooth operation.

Subsequently to above referred emails, a Minute M-1 dated 17 October, 2010 was initiated by the then country manager as desired by the head Office management. The station was directed to procure and produce original bills for giveaways items for management's approval. In compliance of management instruction, the country manager initiated a Minute and sent to Head Office along with original bills of giveaways items amounting SAR 337100/- for management's approval", the letter of PIA official to its MD says.

It adds, "It may be noted that approximately SAR 6 million fines were likely to be imposed by GACA on PIA for violation of different instruction like filling of immigration cards, late cancellation or delay of flights etc. were waived by airport authorities due to the then Station Management close and effective interaction with concerned officials/staff of the authorities. These giveaways were very instrumental in getting waivers of fine over SAR 6.083 million (eqv to PKR 140 million) and also soften their attitude for PIA in allocation of bays for our flights on priority basis to ensure timely departure/processing of PIA Hajj flights during 2010."

"We would like to highlight about the operation of extra flights PK-7412 sponsored by Abdul Rehman Malik carrying Hajjis after deadline and landed at Jeddah on 11 November, 2010 resulted in fine of SAR 200000. You will appreciate that the then Country Manager managed to get waiver of fine on this unprecedented serious violation only because of close contacts and influence on concerned authorities and arranged a post facto permission of this flight vide GACA letter. Had this been not managed by the then Country Manager, GOP would have to pay a penalty of PKR 4.8 million as was undertaken by Ministry/Deputy Head Operation of Embassy of Pakistan (Riyadh)."

The PIA official has mentioned that the management approves the giveaways items and then Country Manager is being attached. "Payment of giveaway items given in the incumbency of Maj (Retd) Khurram Mushtaq, the then Country Manager was made through proper head of account given by the Head Office. There is no audit objection for payment of giveaways by Maj Khurram Mushtaq, ex-Country Manager (KSA)."

"We regret that we cannot disclose details of individuals to whom these giveaways were given to maintain secrecy as its disclosure will jeopardize thorough our coordinators, to officials of different agencies working at the airport and payments were also made through these coordinators", it concludes.

Courtesy: The News


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