Pakistan Airlines Jet Seized In Malaysia For Unpaid Dues Passengers Stranded

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While there is a well-known saying about how lightning typically doesn’t strike the same place twice, it is less common and rare for the same widebody aircraft to be seized in the same country by the same airline two times in three years. However, that happened to a Boeing Co. 777 jet operated by Pakistan International Airlines Corp., impounded on May 29 in Kuala Lumpur over unpaid charges to a leasing company.

The airline said it would seek legal remedies to free the plane, a PIA spokesman said. He said the state-owned airline would also send a replacement aircraft to pick up passengers stranded by the seizure. The company said it would continue to honor its contractual obligations with the leasing firm, despite the seizure of the disputed jet.

PIA says that the leasing company demanded unpaid charges for aircraft maintenance reserves and the lease payments, which a London court found are due once the plane is returned to the airline. The airline has argued that the lease company should not be allowed to take possession of a plane without payment of these charges. According to court documents, the lease contract includes a clause that the lease payment is only valid if it is paid in full before returning the plane to PIA.

The seizure of the PIA plane is the latest embarrassment for the airline, which has been facing financial difficulties and was forced to ground some of its fleets last year. In addition, the airline recently lost its European Union approval to fly into the bloc, citing inadequate safety management and financial problems.

In the case of the seized aircraft, a Dublin-based leasing company called Aercap, which holds the lease on the 777, had a lien on the jet for unpaid charges. Aercap said it seized the aircraft after the PIA flight from New York to Karachi landed in Kuala Lumpur on May 29 because the airline failed to pay the lease company a total of $14 million in dues.

During the period in which the plane remained at Derby, PIA’s agents at offices in Houston, New York, Amsterdam, and Karachi repeatedly represented to Jamila Tarar Shami that the casket would be on the next PIA flight to arrive in Karachi, but several “next planes” did not bring the casket, which was ultimately delayed indefinitely.

The recurrence of this problem will only add to the growing concerns that PIA is in severe financial trouble. The airline has been struggling to recover from years of losses and underfunding, including a significant loss in the third quarter. It has also been the subject of a series of embarrassing incidents; most recently, one of its flights strayed into Indian airspace while traveling from Lahore to Islamabad on Sunday. The incident is the subject of a government investigation. Pakistan officials have urged the airline to work with the foreign ministry to resolve the dispute.

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