Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has suffered another financial setback as 13 of its bank accounts were frozen due to non-payment of Federal Excise Duty (FED) amounting to Rs8 billion. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) took this action and also decided to register a first information report (FIR) against PIA officials for failing to submit the FED.
This incident comes just weeks after the airline’s bank accounts were previously frozen on July 27, over similar issues of tax non-payment. However, the accounts were restored the following day after negotiations between the FBR and PIA. Despite the restoration of the accounts, the FED was not submitted, leading to the current situation.
The freezing of the accounts is expected to have no impact on the flight operations of the national carrier, according to a PIA spokesperson. They also assured that there is ongoing contact at the government level and that the accounts would be restored soon.
This financial crisis comes at a time when PIA is already grappling with severe challenges. The airline had recently requested a bailout package worth Rs 23 billion from the federal government, which was denied. Former Aviation Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique emphasized the need for privatizing the carrier to prevent it from ceasing operations.
In the final days of the PDM regime, a decision was made to include PIA in the list of active privatization projects during a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Privatization chaired by then Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. This decision was taken as part of measures to reduce the losses of the national exchequer through different state-owned enterprises. Despite these challenges, PIA plans to resume flights to the United Kingdom and other European destinations by October.