SriLankan CEO says A330 lease to PIA was ‘transparent process’

SriLankan CEO says A330 lease to PIA was ‘transparent process’

March 18, 2017   10:45 pm

Sri Lanka’s national carrier SriLankan Airlines today said that the wet lease of its A330 aircraft to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), a deal which is being investigated by authorities in Pakistan, was a transparent process and that the tender strictly followed government procedures. 

Pakistan has barred Bernd Hildenbrand, the first foreign national chief executive of the state-owned national airline, from leaving the country as the government begins an investigation into a plane-lease contract.

Pakistan’s anti-graft Federal Investigation Agency has been directed to probe country’s national carrier PIA and the plane lease deal.

The FIA is investigating Hildenbrand, the interim CEO of PIA, and other PIA executives over alleged kickbacks, embezzlement and mismanagement in the lease of aircraft, namely A330-300 - 4R-ALN from SriLankan Airlines.  

However, when contacted by Ada Derana for a response to these reports, SriLankan Airlines CEO Capt. Suren Ratwatte stated that the tender strictly followed Pakistani government procedures. 

“We were awarded a tender which strictly followed Pakistani government procedures. It was a transparent process.” 

“The operation was flawless for the entire six month period,” he told Ada Derana.  

The Airbus-330 was acquired on lease for premier service of PIA. The PIA has paid over $19 million to Sri Lankan authorities in terms of wet lease for this aircraft during span of six months.  

Initially, the PIA premier service was to be launched using four Airbus 330-300 aircraft, the first of which was leased from Sri Lankan airlines. Since the aircraft was new to PIA, the airline’s own crew was unfamiliar with the equipment and it was decided to take the aircraft on wet lease – where the crew that operates the aircraft is also part of the lease.

The decision to put Hildenbrand on ECL came after the National Assembly was told that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) had suffered losses of about Rs 180 crores on a premium service on the domestic route and also in connection with the airlines acquiring a plane from Sri Lankan Airlines at an exorbitant price than the prevailing market rate.

Apparently the airlines acquired a plane from Sri Lankan Airlines at USD 8,000 per hour, while another airline had acquired the same type of plane at USD 4,000 per hour.

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