As it was about to take off for Islamabad International Airport (ISB), Pakistan, a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Boeing 777, registered AP-BMH, was seized on the tarmac of Kuala Lumpur Airport (KUL), Malaysia. According to local media reports, the aircraft was impounded over nonpayment of the lease dues to AerCap, an Ireland-based lessor. The latter started legal action in a court in the United Kingdom.
PIA protested on social media, calling the decision “one-sided”. “It is an unacceptable situation and PIA has engaged the support from Government of Pakistan to take up this matter using diplomatic channels,” the carrier said. “The passengers are being looked after and alternate arrangements for their travel have been finalized.”
The national carrier of Pakistan is embroiled in controversy since the crash of PIA flight PK8303 that took place on May 22, 2020, after the airline’s crew was suspected to be responsible for the accident. Following the crash, the airline found itself at the epicenter of a fake license scandal in the country, which revealed that as many as 262 Pakistani pilots out of 860 active pilots had questionable credentials to operate aircraft.
PIA flights to the EU were suspended due to safety concerns for a period of 6 months in July 2020. In December 2020, the ban was extended for an additional 90 days by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as “all preconditions to lift the suspension” were not met.