Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Chief Executive Officer Bernd Hildenbrand, who is facing travel ban and charges of corruption in airlines, on Friday rebuked all allegations leveled against him and termed them baseless.

Talking to BBC, he claimed that investigation agency did not have enough information regarding lease of planes. Instead of conducting his media trial, all procedures of acquiring planes on lease could be learnt in a meeting, he added.

“Government is authorised to keep an eye on expenditures of institution and the authorities can interrogate me on it if they are doubtful about my honesty,” he said, adding, “Defaming me without any notice is shameful”.

On Thursday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan during a press conference revealed that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) CEO’s name is on the Exit Control List (ECL).

The minister had said Hildenbrand is under investigation on charges of corruption as the national carrier had acquired a plane from Sri Lankan Airlines on exorbitant charges than the prevailing market rates.

“PIA had acquired a plane from Sri Lankan Airlines at $8,000 per hour, while another airline had acquired the same type of plane at $4,000 per hour,” the minister said.

Replying to a query, Brend said that he was not the CEO at the time of leasing, adding that the Board of Directors of PIA has approved the acquiring process. A tender was issued for the lease of the plane and discussed with the government, he further said.

Responding to the statement of Interior minister regarding exorbitant charges, he said that the investigation agency was comparing the “apples with bananas”.

PIA wanted to acquire new or less-used plane with all latest facilities like wifi, flat-bed seats and others, he said, adding that the plane which was acquired by other company is ten years old.

Hildenbrand pointed out that airplane lease prices have come down since the deal was struck with a Sri Lankan airline last year.

An official of PIA said that PIA paid comparatively higher prices for the plane from Sri Lankan Airlines because it had acquired the plane on wet lease with pilots, engineers and other cabin crew staff, while other airlines had acquired the plane on dry lease without any staff.

The official also added that wet lease contracts for 3-4 planes with Sri Lanka were to replace with dry lease but it was not happened due to which Pakistan’s relations with an important partner went tense.