KARACHI: Confusion surrounds the dispute between the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Shaheen Air International (SAI) regarding non-payment of dues by the SAI and partial suspension of its flight operations by the CAA.

The aviation regulator says that the SAI’s international flight operations, except to and from Saudi Arabia, have been suspended from Monday.

Meanwhile, the SAI said in a press release issued late on Monday evening that the Sindh High Court has suspended the CAA order.

Responding to Dawn queries, CAA spokesperson Pervez George said that the CAA has not suspended its services and facilities to Shaheen Air International for its domestic and Saudi Arabian sector flights.

He said that owing to non-payment of dues of over Rs1.5 billion, services and facilities to the airline’s international flights only, except Saudi Arabia, were suspended with effect from July 16, 2018.

He said that for the above suspension a prior notice had been served on the Shaheen Air and its announcements were also made through the media well before time to help passengers avoid any inconvenience.

The CAA has not yet received any haj flight schedule from the SAI, the CAA spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, responding to Dawn queries SAI representative Zoheb Hassan said that the Sindh High Court has suspended the operation of CAA’s July 13 letter to the SAI where by the CAA threatened to withdraw its services for international flights, except to Saudi Arabia and that the SAI operations were continuing as normal.

He said that the SAI had challenged the CAA letter which was issued in patent breach of CAA’s own laws particularly Rule 373 of the CAA Rules 1994.

He also accused the CAA of discriminatory treatment towards the SAI and said that action had been taken SAI though its arrears were just around 2 per cent of the other local carrier (big defaulter).

He also dismissed market rumours of severe financial difficulties engulfing SAI, saying the airline has “just received six aircraft from Jordanian Airlines” and is current on all payments to all creditors.

“Only CAA and some FBR payments are in dispute,” he told Dawn while rubbishing market rumours that the airline may be searching for a buyer. “Why would anyone sell a profitable business?”

Published in Dawn, July 17th , 2018