LAHORE – Because of poor planning of former PIA managing director, the loss-stricken national flag carrier will have to ground half of its fleet of A310 aircraft during the next year, adding to the miseries of passengers, well-placed sources revealed to The Nation on Thursday.

Sources said that the PIA was operating 12 A310 aircraft, of which two were currently grounded and their four engines were lying unserviceable for the past ten months. Technical sources claimed that six more engines of three aircraft were due to be overhauled in the next six months. The overhauling of engines would cost about Rs600 million per engine and if PIA wanted to keep its total fleet of A310 operational, it would have to get its ten engines service which would cost Rs6 billion. Sources disclosed that what to say of making engines serviceable, PIA has no cash to purchase spare parts of its other engines which costs far less amount.

Recently, Capt. Junaid Younis rejected such summary on the ground of non-availability of funds. A senior officer of PIA said that twelve Airbus A310 Aircraft constitute major volume of PIA fleet of 39. There are two different models being operated by national flag carrier. Amongst twelve aircrafts, six are powered by General Electric CF6-80C2 engines and the other six by Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines. The airline has in-house overhaul facility for CF6-80C2 engines while PW4000 were sent to an Eagle Services Asia, Singapore under an agreement called Fleet Management Programme (FMP). PIA was operating PW4000 powered A310 aircraft under lease agreement with Airbus Leasing since 2003.

 PIA management, headed by the then PIA MD Capt Nadeem Yousafzai, decided to acquire these six aircraft earlier in 2011 instead of lease maturity year 2015. The surprising reconciliation revealed that PIA management failed to claim around $35 million owed by Airbus Leasing and approved the clause in the reconciliation agreement to adjust this amount in some future deals of Airbus aircraft. It is worth mentioning here that this claimable amount was paid by PIA as maintenance reserves over the period of eight years from 2003 to 2011 with a purpose to be used for maintenance of these aircraft. Now millions of dollars being agreed to be paid for the potential purchase of aircraft is pending with Airbus Leasing. On the other side, after acquiring these aircraft the Fleet Management Programme (FMP) agreement has also come to a hasty end without keeping in mind the drastic repercussions for future operations of aircraft. Currently, one of these aircraft bearing registration AP-BGN is grounded almost for the last ten months due to non-availability of engines. PIA is now facing the music of acquiring aircraft in haste and facing acute shortage of funds to get these units back as serviceable. The temporary improvement was evident during a short stay of Rao Qamar Suleman who somehow managed to take bold decisions and reappropriation of payment schedule to different vendors involved in maintenance of PIA engines. Sensible utilisation of funds also improved the provisioning of engineering spares a bit. Unfortunately this improvement proved very short and there is a breakdown again in the supply of engineering spares, sources close to development said. PIA is running its operation without having regular Chairman, Managing Director, Chief Financial Officer, Director HR and Chief Internal Auditor, a senior officer of airlines said. When contacted PIA MD Capt Junaid Younis, his spokesman Kamran said that acquiring planes before lease maturity time was option in lease agreement. He said that two grounded A310 were on routine checking and not grounded for last ten months.