PIA to return Airbus leased from SriLankan Airlines

Indo Asian News Service

Islamabad, March 3 (IANS) Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is likely to return its London-bound premier service Airbus 330 aircraft, which was wet leased from SriLankan Airlines, having already paid $19 million for it.

The aircraft was taken away from PIA's fleet to the engineering department where the national airline's logo was removed.

PIA had been allegedly paying $8,000 per flying hour for six months as part of the wet lease, Dawn reported.

The acquisition and subsequent return of the plane has raised many eyebrows in regard to the ethical nature of the decision taken by PIA -- which of late has been embroiled in a lot of controversy.

Aviation sources said that seat and load factors for the premier service were allegedly not according to plan.

Meanwhile, PIA spokesperson Daniyal Gilani said that the aircraft was obtained on market rate without any legal violations.

"The aircraft was new and according to the necessary requirements," the spokesperson said.

"The amount paid in the lease also takes into account the salaries of the foreign staff and any other associated expenses," he added.

The sources said that PIA will now operate the premier service through Boeing 777 aircraft. The airline has seven of these in its fleet.

The London-bound premier service was inaugurated on August 14, 2016, by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

As part of the service, passengers landing in London were offered limo rides to their respective place of stay from Heathrow Airport.