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Mar 20, 2017

Pakistan authorities dismayed on Sri Lankan’s stance on aircraft deal

Pakistani aviation experts have expressed dismay on the country’s national carrier CEO Suren Ratwatte’s claim of A 330 aircraft deal with Pakistan International airline was transparent and the tender has strictly followed Pakistani government procedures, despite the ongoing investigations in to alleged corrupt practices.

Pakistan Federal investigation Agency is investigating PIA CEO Bernd Hildenbrand and other PIA executives over alleged kickbacks, embezzlement and mismanagement in the lease of aircraft, namely A330-300 from SriLankan Airlines.

Pakistan has barred Bernd Hildenbrand, the first foreign national chief executive of the state-owned national airline, from leaving the country as the government begins an investigation into a plane-lease contract.

Under this set up, how can the Sri Lankan Airline CEO Suren Ratwatte make a statement in favour of PIA who is accused of a corrupt deal?, they asked.

At this moment what the Sri Lankan government should do is to assist the FIA investigations rather than trying to white wash persons who are under investigations, they stressed.

If PIA CEO is found guilty, what action is to be taken by Sri Lankan Government against the CEO Ratwatte who is now openly aiding and abetting the accused in Pakistan and it is an insult for Pakistan investigation authorities, they emphasized.

The wet-leased A330 was recently returned to Sri Lanka, after a six-month contract. SriLankan Airlines CEO Captain Suren Ratwatte has told local media the deal was the most profitable one the airline had made in recent history.

PIA reportedly paid USD19 million for the six month deal. The aircraft was deployed on the Premier London Heathrow-Islamabad service, which allegedly lost PKR1.5 billion (USD14.3 million) over the course of its operation, Pakistani media reported stating that no one can justify this deal as transparent during investigations.

A Senate panel recently released a report of inquiry into PIA's finances and management, finding that corruption was a problem in all areas of business. "Corruption is rampant in purchase of spares parts, allocating of space for freight, purchase of tickets, in enrolments and postings and in catering and engineering departments," the report says. It recommends the immediate dissolution of the Board of Directors, and the appointment of a permanent CEO, Pakistan Media said.

SriLankan Airlines CEO Suren Ratwatte stated that the tender strictly followed Pakistani government procedures. “We were awarded a tender which strictly followed Pakistani government procedures. It was a transparent process.” “The operation was flawless for the entire six month period,” he told Ada Derana TV channel.

Sri Lankan CEO’s attempt to white wash the deal was not only aiding and abetting the persons under investigations but also undermining the Pakistani authorities, Pakistan aviation experts claimed.

Although the Sri Lankan CEO claimed that PIA was ready to take over 2nd and 3rd A330 aircraft in the months of February and April, there was no such agreement between the two airlines, they said.

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