While Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has had a rich and colorful history, with incidents at the airline making dreams come true for headline writers, very few can live up to this: the Parliament of Pakistan and PIA are currently going head-to-head over the fate of an Airbus A310 aircraft that parliamentarians say has been wiped from the airline’s books and is completely lost.
A lawmaker in the Senate brought up the issue on Tuesday, with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sheikh Aftab Ahmad claiming the Pakistan International Airlines jet was lost from the carrier’s books and there was no clue as to its whereabouts. The lawmaker who brought up the issue reported that he had received information that “a Boeing jet” was missing from the airline.
Ahmad said that Parliament is “form[ing] a committee to probe the matter but it has not found any clue so far,” but went further, accusing PIA’s former CEO Bernd Hildenbrand of “taking the plane home” while leaving Pakistan.
Hildenbrand was fired earlier this year amid allegations of corruption in the leasing of aircraft and was originally banned from leaving the country pending litigation. However, he was allowed to leave the country if he returned by mid-June, however, he has yet to do so (obviously) and is believed to be hiding out in his native country of Germany, where he holds citizenship.
However, PIA has a different story: Spokesman Mashhood Tajwar told the media earlier this week that the Airbus A310 (not a Boeing) had been grounded in Germany as it was no longer airworthy. He was quoted by the Karachi-based Dawn newspaper as stating that “It’s (the aircraft is) not missing. It’s in Germany.”
Reportedly, the aircraft was chartered by a British company to transport a movie crew to Malta, and the aircraft was flown to Germany afterward. Tajwar said that the plane was “a 30-year-old aircraft and had already been grounded,” going further to say that the aircraft was no longer airworthy.
Tajwar said that tenders were being currently sought to dispose of the aircraft as scrap and that the government had conducted an inquiry into this situation, but the findings had not been shared with PIA.
However, on top of this, PIA announced earlier this year that its entire Airbus A310 fleet was retired, creating even more questions on why one of these Airbus A310s would be flying. PIA’s last three Airbus A310s were put into storage in January.
This news comes on the heels of a number of embarrassing incidents for PIA, which has been bleeding money for a number of years. In May, a pilot allowed a passenger to stay in the cockpit of a Tokyo-Beijing flight for nearly the entire duration. In the wake of this incident, the Pakistani Government was reportedly looking for a recommendation from Parliament to declare the airline bankrupt and to shut it down.
Earlier this year in a highly publicized situation, a PIA captain was taken “off-duty” after sleeping on a London-bound flight, handing the controls of an aircraft with over 300 passengers onboard to a trainee. And last year, the airline had an internal investigation into allegations that seven passengers traveled from Karachi, Pakistan to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in the aisle of a PIA aircraft.
Let’s just hope a Boeing aircraft didn’t go missing, too.
What are your thoughts on the situation? Share in the comments below. Featured image by Mark Winterbourne via Wikimedia Commons.