LAHORE - Although one-time permission given to former PIA CEO German national Bernd Hildenbrand to fly home for thirty days expired on June 10, he did not return to Pakistan to face corruption charges.

Bernd’s name was placed on Exit Control List (ECL) for his alleged involvement in lease of A330 aircrafts for much-trumpeted start of Premium Service. Similar excessive payments have been made on lease of A320 aircrafts in use of PIA.

FIA sources have revealed that a PIA A310, which was airworthy and flew to Germany, was sold to a German company for Euro 45,000, although same aircraft was hired by company in Malta for 10 days at a cost of Euro 210,000 and its book value was estimated to be $3.1 million.

PIA Board of Directors headed by former chairman and Aviation secretary had given approval to the leasing agreement negotiated by a committee comprising CEO Bernd, Director of Corporate Planning, Director of Engineering, Director of Flight Operations and CFO for leasing of A330 from Sri Lankan Airlines at over $8,000 per hour although similar aircraft have been procured on lease by other private Pakistani registered airlines for approximately $4000 per hour.

It should be noted that every Pakistani registered airline under regulatory control of CAA Pakistan has to submit complete record of leasing contracts to the regulator for grant of permission to operate it for scheduled commercial airline operations. Both PIA and CAA Board of Directors were headed by Secretary of Aviation and there were many other members of board who were on governing board of both these state owned institutions. It can be safely assumed that Chairman of the CAA Board of Directors was aware of cost of leasing these aircrafts by private airlines.

PM’s Adviser on Aviation Sardar Mehtab Abbasi had given go-ahead to FIA to investigate in these massive corruption scams that have eroded PIA for ages. He has also issued instructions to give exemplary punishments to those PIA employees involved in financial and administrative indiscipline.

While numerous parliamentarians lost their seats for submitting fake educational degrees and also faced criminal charges, over 300 PIA regular and contractual employees continue to be on payrolls even after it has been established that their basic degrees submitted to employer were fake.

Former CEO Bernd was placed on ECL pending investigation by FIA for massive corruption and was barred from leaving the country. He was hired during tenure of Chairman Nasir Jaffer. In a surprise move the Ministry of Interior gave him special permission for 30 days on 4 May 2017 knowing well that as a German citizen once he leaves the country, other than through Red Warrants issued through Interpol, it would be difficult to ensure that he returns. Investigations into this probe seem to have been landed in cold storage as have numerous other investigations ordered in massive corruption in loss-making white elephants like PIA, PSM, CAA, etc.

An FIA official said investigations have been halted only for the reason that the main accused is not present in the country. On his arrival investigations would be started again, he said and added, “I am sure that he will be back since he was permitted to leave country after assurance of German Embassy sources”.