KARACHI: The Pakistan International Airlines may face restrictions on its operations in Saudi Arabia over non-payment of fines amounting to Rs175 million.
Sources in the PIA told Dawn on Monday that the fines had been imposed by the General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca), the aviation regulator of Saudi Arabia, for various violations committed by the national flag carrier during the last Haj season.
The PIA’s country manager in Jeddah, Shahbaz Ahmed, had taken up the matter with its head office through several communications recently.
Mr Shahbaz wrote that Gaca authorities were demanding payment of outstanding fines of Saudi riyal 7.15m (Rs175m) and showed great annoyance over non-settlement of dues.
“They have advised us that Gaca is being privatised by the end of this year and before this the regulator head (Prince Fahd bin Abdullah) has strictly advised to settle all airline dues.
“It is therefore strongly suggested that these fines should be paid...as the Gaca authorities are not willing to entertain any of PIA requests till the outstanding payments…we will also initiate litigation process after the clearance of PK Haj 2014 schedule to get unnecessary fines waived.”
When contacted, PIA spokesperson Mashhood Tajwar evaded questions about the fines and insisted that business dealings with the Saudi authorities were cordial and payment issues had never hampered its operations.
The sources said the PIA’s SA office was planning to start litigation against the Saudi authorities.
Mr Tajwar said: “Details about payments to Gaca cannot be disclosed due to confidentiality of business matters between the two organisations.”
Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2014