KARACHI: Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has launched a probe into the purchase of ATR-72 aircraft by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on an expensive dry lease for six years.

The FIA has decided to issue notices to all those responsible for purchasing the PIA aircraft on an expensive lease as it caused a loss of over Rs 7 billion to the national exchequer. 

The leases of the aircraft were approved in 2015 and are going to be expired in April 2021. 

According to details, three ATR planes were leased at Rs 179,500 per aircraft while the two others were purchased on a dry lease of Rs172,500 per plane. 

The aircraft were purchased on a lease, neglecting their market value as similar aircrafts were purchased by Shaheen Air for a six-year dry lease at Rs 195,000 per aircraft. 

It is pertinent to mention here that on December 12, the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA)  excluded ATR-72 airplanes, hired on an expensive lease, from its fleet. 

As per details, the planes were removed from the PIA fleet due to their nonprofitable operation as the planes were hired on an expensive lease in 2015 by the then administration of the Pakistan International Airlines. 

Though the lease agreement was the biggest hurdle in returning the aircraft and on the directions of the CEO Arshad Malik, the administration by taking benefit of a clause of the agreement in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic managed to revoke the pact. 

In this context, the first aircraft APB departed for Johannesburg from Karachi on December 12. Malik said the decision was hard but was inevitable. He said that reforms are being introduced in the PIA and sooner new planes would be added to the fleet of the national flag carrier.