Islamabad -  The Senate Special Committee on the Performance of PIA on Thursday constituted a sub-committee to probe the scandal of the sale of PIA Airbus (A-310) to a German firm in violation of Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules.

The sub-committee will comprise senators Farhatullah Babar, Tahir Hussain Mashhadi and Nauman Wazir Khattak and will probe Air Commodore Imran Akhter's role in in the scandal.

The committee, which met under the chair of Chairman Senator Muzaffar Hussain Shah at the Parliament House, was briefed by the Adviser to Prime Minister on Civil Aviation Sardar Mehtab Abbasi that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) were already probing the matter and their inquiries were underway.

The committee directed the sub-committee to also take input from the FIA and the NAB about their progress on the matter.

The senators expressed surprise over the fact that the plane was abandoned and the PIA has paid huge amounts as a parking fee.

The members were apprehensive that eight months have passed and there was no proper reply as to why and how the sale agreement was carried out.

Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak observed that if the plane was sold as scrap, Rs16 million could have been earned while in this agreement the frame was sold out for just Rs7.3 million.

Senator Babar said that the inquiry conducted by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) states that the summary for sale was initiated by Air Commodore Imran Mukhtar while he had said in a meeting of this committee that he was not aware of the development.  The CAA secretary, when asked about any such sale agreements from the past, told the meeting that in 2014-15 C-10 aircraft were sold to the highest bidders after an auction.

Senator Saleem Mandviwala asked the authority that “why this process was not followed in this case and also questioned the involvement of the PIA’s German chief executive officer.

The committee while discussing other agendas recommended having more flight operations between Islamabad and Quetta.

Regarding the closure of direct flights from Islamabad to New York, the PM adviser told the meeting that due to heavy losses, the PIA has decided to carry on with only those flight operations that were commercially viable.

He also told the meeting that the new deadline for upgradation work at the Quetta airport was July 15, 2018.

He said that work has slowed down over the last one-year but it was being expedited.

The committee was also told that PIA was going through a serious financial crisis and the increase in pensions of employees was not possible.

The committee expressed anguish over the non-compliance of the subcommittee's recommendations after more than five months regarding structural changes required in the PIA.

The committee chairperson noted that as an oversight committee it was the right of the committee to have constructive criticism of the national flag carrier that was literally collapsing and its issues were piling up.

The meeting was also attended, among others, by senators Sherry Rehman, Nuzhat Sadiq, Usman Kakar, Tahir Mashhadi, Taj Afridi, Ashok Kumar, Azam Swati.