Malaysian authorities have seized a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) operated Boeing 777 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport over a legal dispute that is being heard in London’s High Court. Officials impounded the multi-million-dollar plane after passengers had already boarded the jet according to sources cited by local media.
“A PIA aircraft has been held back by a local court in Malaysia taking a one-sided decision pertaining to a legal dispute between PIA and another party pending in a UK court,” a spokesperson for the airline said in a statement posted on PIA’s official Twitter channel.
The airline said the passengers were being looked after and that PIA was making alternative arrangements to get the passengers to Pakistan. Local media claim 18 crew members due to operate the flight were taken off the aircraft and placed into mandatory quarantine as part of Malaysia’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is an unacceptable situation and PIA has engaged the support from Government of Pakistan to take up this matter using diplomatic channels,” the airline statement continued.
A Malaysian court ordered the seizure of the plane as part of an ongoing dispute over non-payment of aircraft lease dues which is being dealt with by a British court. PIA had leased two aircraft, including the Boeing 777, from a Vietnamese company back in 2015 although further details about the case weren’t immediately available.
PIA has racked up huge debts in recent years and its financial difficulties have been made even worse by the pandemic. The airline suspended flights after the initial wave of novel Coronavirus infection swept across Pakistan before resuming operations in May 2020.
Shortly after restarting flights, one of PIA’s operated Airbus A320’s crashed on final approach to Karachi with the loss of 97 lives. The airline has also faced a pilot fake licence scandal that resulted in the European Union banning PIA flights.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.