LAHORE -  Name of Pakistan International Airlines’ Chief Executive Officer Bernd Hildenbrand has been placed on Exit Control (ECL) list, an FIA officer said on Thursday.

The FIA is probing PIA’s leasing an A-330 aircraft at an exorbitant rate from a Sri Lankan airline. Leasing the aircraft and starting of a premier service to European destinations is said to be basically a Hildenbrand idea.

Also, Mr Hildenbrand’s visa for Pakistan has expired a couple of months ago and as per rules, a foreigner can get their visa renewed before departure from FIA immigration officer at the airport, if the expiry period is not more than a month. Otherwise, foreigners have to contact interior ministry for extension or renewal of visas.

The PIA official confirming the ECL news said, “Earlier FIA Lahore received verbal instructions from the interior ministry to not allow PIA CEO to travel abroad even if he pays late fee for his expired visa, and it was directed to ask him to contact the ministry for the same”.

The FIA officer said that after that they observed that name of CEO was placed on ECL by the ministry, the FIA immigration officials were informed about it.

The FIA was probing against PIA officials in a plane lease case which was leased against inflated rates as compare to a local airline which leased the same version of aircraft on very cheaper rates. Leasing the aircraft A-330 from Sri Lankan airline and starting of Premier Service to European destination was basic idea of Bernd Hildenbrand.

The lease of A-330 aircraft from Sri Lankan airline has caused huge losses to the PIA. Only in first three months of the premier service, the airline suffered a loss of Rs1.34 billion, according to information provided by PIA management to National Assembly standing committee on aviation.

The same aircraft was earlier leased out to a private airline against $4,000 per hour while PIA got it at $8,500 per hour. The FIA started an inquiry into the issue and PIA authorities were reluctant to provide record to the inquiry team.

Sources said, the CEO’s name will remain on the list till the completion of further investigation against him. A notification has been posted on all the major airports stating that Hildenbrand should not be allowed to depart from the country.

Well informed sources in the national carrier said that irregularities did not happen only in case of A-330 plane but another deal involving A-320 aircraft also demands investigation.

They said that same planes were being run by local airlines which got them against very cheaper rates while PIA paid 60 to 70 percent higher.

Claiming that senior officers from Corporate Planning were involved in receiving kickbacks, they said the interior ministry should expand the inquiry to A-320 aircraft.