ISLAMABAD – Pakistan International Airlines was hit by another challenge on Wednesday when its accounts were frozen even though a team from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is currently conducting a safety audit.
The step was taken by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBA), a move that irked the senior management of the airline with one of its spokespersons confirming that high-level talks were underway to reverse the move.
The disaster comes on top of the fact that a warning was also issued by Pakistan State Oil that if the airline didn’t pay its debt by Thursday, they might stop supplying oil.
The visit of EASA is important as in 2020, the body banned Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) from flying to Europe followed by a crash in Karachi. A statement by the then aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan regarding the pilots’ qualification had also triggered the ban.
The visit comes amid calls by economic experts to privatize the carrier. Privatisation Minister Fawad Hassan Fawad has also advocated privatizing the airline and a consultant has also been hired in this regard.
This is not the first time that FBR has frozen the bank accounts as it has happened in the past as well and that too multiple times. Meanwhile,e Pakistan State Oil has also stopped the supply of oil to the carrier in the past; however, experts say that at a time when the EASAS team is in Pakistan, such a move could dent a severe blow to the carrier.
Pakistan International Airlines is trying hard to resume flights to the United Kingdom and other European destinations but has been unable to resume the flights. The caretaker regime had announced that flights to the United Kingdom would resume in October; however, there has been no development in this regard.
The flight ban has cost Pakistan billions of Dollars besides the reputation damage to the airline which is already cash-strapped and is managing day to day affairs while keeping a tight leash on the expenditures.