KARACHI: An Airbus A320 acquired by Pakistan International Airline (PIA) for $13 million from Indonesia will land in Karachi on Tuesday night, a spokesperson for the airline said.
Loss-making PIA has accumulated hundreds of billions of rupees in losses and arrears. The government announced in August it would privatize the airline, a move that would be in line with an International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal.
PIA leased two Airbus A320 planes from leasing company AirAsia in 2012. The lease concluded in September 2021, after which PIA returned the aircraft to the leasing company. However, a dispute arose when AirAsia declined to accept the planes, contending they were not returned in satisfactory condition.
The row continued for nearly two years and the airline finally struck a deal with the leasing company to buy the two planes after a PIA delegation met with AirAsia officials in Jakarta in October.
“PIA has acquired these aircraft, which were earlier sent to Jakarta for return to the leasing company, AirAsia, upon the completion of a six-year lease,” PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan told Arab News.
“The lessor agreed to PIA's proposal of buying out these aircraft at the price of $26 million.”
PIA made a payment of $13 million last week, the spokesman said, after which one aircraft was released and flying to Pakistan today, Tuesday.
“One aircraft will land at Karachi airport today at 11pm, while the second one will be acquired after paying the remaining $13 million within the next couple of weeks,” Khan added.
The purchase comes at a time of deep crisis for the loss-making airline, which the government says it can no longer fund. PIA has also been in disputes with the Pakistan State Oil company (PSO) over payments.
The airline has long been in trouble.
PIA flights to Europe and the UK have been suspended since 2020 after the European Union's Aviation Safety Agency revoked the national carrier's authorization to fly to the bloc following a scandal over pilot licences.